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Housebuilders back Labour to get Britain building

Housebuilders have indicated that they would prefer a Labour government is formed after the next General Election.

The latest Land Index and Housebuilder Survey from Knight Frank has found that 70% of housebuilders said they would prefer that Labour wins the election as they believe this is the party most capable of enhancing the country’s land and development market.

Labour has pledged to release low quality green belt land, dubbed ‘grey belt’ for development, and give local authorities increased powers to help meet their area’s housing need.

Only 30% of respondents said the Conservatives would be mostly likely to enhance the land and development market, while none of the respondents believed the Liberal Democrats would have a positive impact on the land and development market.

Of the 70% of respondents who said they thought Labour would be most capable of enhancing the country’s land and development market, 70% were large volume housebuilders and/or big London developers.

Of the remaining 30% of respondents who said they thought the Conservatives would be most capable of enhancing the country’s land and development market, 64% were smaller/regional/SME housebuilders who deliver up to 50 units a year.

Commenting on the findings, Charlie Hart, head of development land at Knight Frank, said: “There is clearly mounting frustration amongst housebuilders, and growing demand for practical solutions over political promises.”

“Housebuilders are facing planning and political constraints right now and, unfortunately, there’s a lack of trust in the current system due to the absence of coherent long-term strategy and insufficient land supply. Ahead of this year’s election, housebuilders will be looking for the party that can offer strong leadership and support increased housing delivery through planning reform, industry engagement and addressing nimbyism.”

“As the Help-to-Buy chapter closed without a sequel, many housebuilders are feeling the effects – namely a decrease in housing demand. Labour's promise of ‘first dibs’ for first-time buyers and a streamlined planning process has clearly struck a chord. While the Conservatives have promised a tightening of green belt restrictions, Labour’s pledge to unlock “grey belt” will be eye-catching, offering hope to frustrated developers.

“Ahead of the March Budget, housebuilders will be waiting to see if the Government's policy dial will shift. Indeed, this announcement will be an important test of whether the Conservatives can assuage housebuilders' concerns. For now, however, Labour's ambitious housing plans seem to be wooing housebuilders and appealing to their immediate interests.”

Anna Ward, associate in the residential research team at Knight Frank, added: “News that Rishi Sunak has likely delayed calling a general election until the second half of the year should provide some stability for the land and new homes market. Once the election is called, our survey shows that the majority of housebuilders would welcome a Labour government from a land and development perspective. As election fever gains momentum, it will be interesting to see what incentives, if any, the government includes for first time buyers in the Spring Budget.”


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