We must recapture post war spirit to solve housing crisis, says shadow housing minister

Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds, Labour MP for Wolverhampton North East, has said that a future Labour government will need to treat tackling the housing shortage in this country as a “war job” that can only be solved by taking bold and decisive steps such as building new towns and giving successful cities the right to keep growing.

In the post war period, the Labour government of Clement Attlee, the Conservative governments of the 1950s and Harold Wilson’s Labour government all smashed records by building thousands of new homes a year by treating housing with the same relentless focus as fighting the Second World Warm said Reynolds.

A Labour government will aim to build 200,000 homes a year by 2020, she added.

Speaking at the Town and Country Planning Association’s annual conference, Reynolds said: “The 1945 Labour government, from a standing start in 1945, was building nearly 200,000 homes a year by 1950. Harold Macmillan treated the position of housing minister in the Conservative administration of the 1950s as a war job and smashed his target of building 300,000 homes a year. Harold Wilson went on to build even more. These governments not only built millions of new homes in total but new towns, like Telford, that have since continued to thrive.

"The last time we faced such a big need for housing, new towns and garden cities played a big part in meeting it. Indeed, without them we would not have delivered the large increase in housing supply after the war. New towns are one of the great unsung successes of post-war planning. Around 2.6 million people live in the 32 new towns built since the war. It seems almost incredible now that the post-war Attlee government started 11 new towns between 1946 and 1950 alone.

"They were different times but we must re-capture that post-war spirit. However, we must match the post-war zeal for numbers and volume, with a determination to deliver quality building is so much more than bricks and mortar, it is about building homes and communities. Because we must ensure that our aims and ambitions match the hopes and dreams of all those who want a home of their own.”

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