Keir Starmer backs more building on green belt and onshore wind farms
17th May 2023

Keir Starmer backs building on green belt and more onshore wind farms as he bids to outflank Tories on new homes

Keir Starmer today backed more building on the green belt as he bids to outflank the Tories on new homes.

The Labour leader insisted he would give councils scope to decide where to put construction. 

He also backed lifting the moratorium on onshore wind farms in England, saying that ‘tough’ decisions need to be made.

Sir Keir is hoping to capitalise on Conservative infighting over house-building, with Rishi Sunak caught in a pincer movement between Red Wall MPs who want targets to drive construction – and many in traditional Tory heartlands who are alarmed about local anger at developments.

Sir Keir accused the government of ‘killing’ the dream of home ownership and said housebuilding was ‘the sort of growth we need in this country’.

Ahead of a speech to the BCC conference this afternoon, he said a discussion was needed over allowing building on the green belt if it meets local needs.

Labour leader Keir Starmer insisted he would give councils scope to decide where to put construction

Sir Keir used the example of houses being built on a playing field in Maidstone rather than on a car park, with the reason given that the car park was classified as being in the greenbelt.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Sir Keir said: ‘I don’t think anybody who cares about our countryside would think that is a good idea.

‘So what I’m say is that if we give local areas the power to direct where housing is, even when it is on the greenbelt, if it is a car park rather than a playing field, then I think that protecting the car park and building on the playing field was the wrong choice.

‘We would make those tough choices and say to local areas: not withstanding that it is the greenbelt, if it is a car park or similar land which doesn’t effect the beauty of our countryside, which we all want to preserve, then we’ll change the planning rules, we’ll give you the planning powers to do that.’

He said giving local authorities greater scope to decide would provide a solution.

Sir Keir will tell the BCC later that planning reforms and a modern industrial strategy will revive an economy which is ‘stuck in second gear’, calling for a ‘union of the willing to… build a better Britain’.

Mr Sunak was forced to drop plans for compulsory housebuilding targets in the face of a backlash from rebel backbench MPs and Tory activists – although Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove is looking for a compromise solution to reinstate them.

Sir Keir is hoping to capitalise on Conservative infighting over house-building. File picture

Sir Keir will restate his commitment to bringing back local housing targets.

In his speech in Westminster, he will say: ‘A generation and its hopes are being blocked by those who – more often than not – enjoy the secure homes and jobs that they’re denying to others.’

He will say his policy of backing ‘the builders not the blockers’ extends beyond just new houses.

‘You can’t be serious about raising productivity, about improving the supply-side capacity of our economy and about arresting our economic decline without a plan for the wind farms, the laboratories, the warehouses and the homes this country so desperately needs,’ he will say.

Sir Keir will say the county needs a government ‘that won’t sit on the sidelines’ and will address the ‘doom-loop of low growth, low productivity and high taxes’.

‘We need a reformed planning system, a modern industrial strategy, a more powerful British business bank that will help scale businesses – new and old,’ he will say.

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