Published: 07:00, 23 November 2016
| Updated: 07:04, 23 November 2016
Housing development on greenfield land will have to be tolerated if the UK is to solve Britain’s housing crisis, says the leader of the Liberal Democrat party Tim Farron.
Mr Farron, who visited Maidstone and Canterbury yesterday to meet activists and supporters, said the chronic lack of affordable homes could not be allowed to go on.
Government figures have revealed that the number of affordable homes built in 2015-16 was the lowest for 24 years.
Mr Farron said the party was committed to building ten garden cities to ease the pressure and rejected the idea that its policy would amount to concreting over the Garden of England.
“We are a country with space to develop and the answer is to build new places like garden cities.
"In some senses you have the ability to develop and protect the environment and provide new homes.
"That means building on brownfield sites and changing the law so you are not allowed as a developer to sit on useable space that would be great for affordable housing.”
“There will have to be some development on land that currently has grass on it. And I think we just have to accept that.
"And we need to get alongside communities to allow them to do just that.
"The problem is that you hear politicians of all different colours getting very upset about our terrible housing crisis`but then doing nothing about it.”
He argued that housing associations needed to be allowed to borrow against the value of their stock to build cheaper homes and the government should halt the sell-off of affordable homes.
On the party’s political fortunes in Kent, he denied that people saw it as a wasted vote.
“In places like Maidstone, our support is strong and has been going up and we came a very strong second at the general election and if there is a snap election, which we are prepared for, Maidstone will be one of those places which we would hope to gain from the Conservatives.”
“I think British politics has been turned on its head and what is clear to me is that we have a very extreme government following an agenda and a Labour party with an extremist hard left position and is not seen as a credible alternative government.
"If we don’t step up to the plate there will be no serious alternative at all.”
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