David Cameron has set out plans to build tens of thousands of new homes for sale to young first-time buyers at discounted prices if the Conservatives regain power at next year’s general election.
As Tories begin gathering in Birmingham for their annual conference, the Prime Minister said a Conservative government would release cheaper, commercial “brownfield” land for housebuilding – with properties reserved for first-time buyers.
Homes built under the proposed Help to Buy: Starter Homes scheme would also be exempt from a range of taxes, enabling them to be sold for 20% below the normal market rate.
In an interview with The Sun, Mr Cameron said the programme would deliver 100,000 starter homes over the lifetime of the next parliament.
“We want to help more young people achieve the dream of home ownership so today as part of our long-term economic plan I can pledge we will build 100,000 homes for young, first-time buyers,” he said.
“We will make these starter homes 20% cheaper by exempting them from a raft of taxes and by using brownfield land.
“I don’t want to see young people locked out of home ownership. We’ve already started to tackle the problem with Help to Buy mortgages – and these new plans will help tens of thousands more people to buy their first home.”
The Conservatives said that under the plan the homes would be constructed on brownfield land which has already been zoned for development but is no longer needed for industrial or commercial use.
Such land is not normally made available for housebuilding and can be bought more cheaply than other land, and the savings will be passed on to the buyer. Public sector land which is surplus to requirements will also be brought into the scheme.
At the same time, the Conservatives said that the properties would be exempt from most of the taxes imposed on new homes, such as the social housing requirement and the community infrastructure levy.
Some future regulations such as the zero carbon homes standard will also not apply to properties built under the scheme.
The announcement is intended to set the tone for the party’s final annual conference before the country goes to the polls next May, providing a launchpad for the general election campaign.
However the conference season has so far been overshadowed by events elsewhere – with Labour’s gathering last week caught between the backwash of the Scottish referendum vote and developments in the Middle East.
With Parliament now having given the go-ahead for RAF air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq, the Conservatives may also struggle to get their message through in the way that they might normally expect.