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How will each political party’s housebuilding plans impact Kent?

Housing has emerged as a significant electoral battleground in Kent, with the parties all staking a claim to solve the shortage of homes at the same time as protecting the environment.

Political editor Paul Francis takes a look at what the parties have been saying about their plans over the conference season…

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey


Party leader Ed Davey had wanted to scrap targets, a commitment that was designed to attract wavering Conservatives unhappy about their party’s policy of creating zones in which development would be permitted without the need to secure planning permission.

But in an embarrassing defeat for Davey at his conference, an amendment tabled by the Young Liberals to restore the 380,000 target was overwhelmingly passed.

Janey Little, chair of the Young Liberals, said that without targets, the party risked alienating younger voters who were “fearful for our futures when homes are so unaffordable”.

The party leadership urged delegates to drop targets, saying they had “demonstrably failed” to deliver enough houses.

“We need to build a target which is locally devised and locally binding from the bottom up,” said party spokesman Helen Morgan.

Other proposals included commissioning 10 new garden cities and creating 150,000 homes for young people.

The party backed a policy to tackle the housing shortage in the private sector by moving towards community-led solutions in existing towns and cities.

IMPACT on Kent? Unlikely to be one of new ‘garden cities’ but politically, it leaves the party open to the accusation that it will adopt a top-down approach to planning. Conservatives will exploit the retention of targets.

Sir Keir Starmer on a visit to support Labour candidates in Medway
Sir Keir Starmer on a visit to support Labour candidates in Medway


The party committed to creating 1.5m new homes over a five-year period, staking a claim to be on-side with those unable to get on the housing ladder.

Leader Keir Starmer told the conference that there would be no exemptions for those who opposed developments in their own area.

He said: “We are going to have to be tough with anybody who stands in the way of that and that will include any Labour MPs who say: 'Well, I'm signed up to the project but just not here.'”

On the issue of protecting green belt land, he said there were sites where it was illogical to identify them as such and they should be scrapped.

His speech underlined how central housing would be under his premiership, saying the dream of home ownership was becoming increasingly remote for many, despite the fact it can serve as a “springboard” for families’ ambitions.

He also proposed new development corporations “with the power to remove blockages” to construction.

IMPACT on Kent: Some of these commitments have been around the block before now but the party is making sure that people, especially young families, know that they are on their side. Starmer said he would “bulldoze” planning laws that stood in the way of new housing and growth.

He denied his policy plans involved “tearing up the green belt”, but that “ridiculous uses of it” would be identified for adjustment, allowing new construction projects.

Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak


Housing was not referred to at all by the Prime Minister in his speech but the party has already made one significant concession to its policy by dropping mandatory house-building targets, saying that the figures will be for guidance only.

However, the national target of 300,000 new homes per year by the mid 2020s remains in place.

It has also introduced reforms designed to give renters better protection from poor landlords and will abolish “no fault” evictions, allowing them to challenge them without fear of losing their home.

IMPACT on Kent: Many councils have been in limbo over their local plans amid the jostling with the government about how many homes should be built, where and at what cost.

Kent faces the same challenges as many other areas: securing enough homes but not at any price.

The affordability gap and how to close it remains a key question, as does the question around the reluctance of developers to meet the costs of infrastructure through agreements with councils.

Kent County Council supports an “Infrastructure First” approach to development to ensure infrastructure is planned, funded and delivered at the right time and ahead of residential development where necessary.

Political parties have set out how they will solve the housing crisis
Political parties have set out how they will solve the housing crisis


The party is committed to a national housing strategy which would improve affordability by stabilising house prices and rents so that there is no further real terms growth in housing costs.

The Greens would spend £145bn over 10 years on a "fairer, greener homes guarantee", giving grants and loans to make homes more energy-efficient.

Grants would be targeted at homeowners living in poverty, while other property owners would be able to take out property-linked loans, to be paid off "via savings from reduced energy bills”.

On housebuilding targets the party says: “They should be sufficient to meet the needs of the current and future population.”

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