Labour 2013: 'Blue Labour' guru backs community land trusts

A key Labour thinker has spoken of his frustration at the party leadership's unwillingness to buy into a community-driven model of affordable housing provision.

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Speaking today at a Labour Party conference fringe meeting organised by the New Garden City Movement, Lord Glasman said that he had been confident that the Community Land Trust (CLT) concept would "walk it", but added: "It was the opposite. We can't find a meaningful way in".

CLT developments provide a model of affordable housing by transferring land ownership to a non-profit trust, enabling housing to be sold or rented at affordable rates because the price does not have to reflect land values.

"You would think that the offer of half price homes would be pretty compelling ... as an alternative to a market-led, debt-led housing boom, which is the government's strategy, but also as an alternative to a completely state-led housebuilding project," Glasman said.

But he said that the fact that there are "so few" practical examples of the model had led policymakers to view its backers as "irrelevant, naïve, marginal, nice, but not important".

However, Glasman, the academic behind the "Blue Labour" project, added that supporters of the concept now have a "massive opportunity" this year. He said: "The government-sponsored housing boom is going to explode. There's no real housebuilding element within it. It's just more debt, piled on more debt.

"Our one, state-based housebuilding, is not running, it's not where people are at, at all."

Speaking earlier at the fringe meeting, Kate Henderson, chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association, said that there is a "very strong and powerful case for us to be pushing the Labour Party to make [garden cities] part of the manifesto".

She said: "Properly managed and underwritten by land value capture, garden cities can be good for business, can be good for the state, and ultimately can be good for society, because it is a much more collective way of ensuring that the benefit goes back to local communities."

For all of Planning’s 2013 conferences coverage click here.

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