Labour targets affordable homes 'loophole'

Reports that a Labour Party review is to examine how to maximise the number of affordable homes to rent and buy on new developments feature in today's newspaper round-up.

Labour will today set out plans to "tighten a housebuilding loophole introduced by the Tories" that has been blamed for halving the number of affordable homes built in Britain over the past five years, the Financial Times (subscription required). Shadow housing minister John Healey said that Labour would carry out a review of the future of social housing that would look at how to maximise the number of genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy on new developments. "Changing the rules to capture more of the value created by the granting of planning permission will not only help fund new affordable housing, but help increase local support for new housing, too," Healey told the newspaper.

A £500 million high-speed railway station in Leeds will "heal" the city centre by regenerating industrial land, the Financial Times (subscription required) also reports. The newspaper says that the HS2 line, if finalised, "will create a T-shaped station attached to the existing facility, already the north’s busiest". The structure will join the station, which was built over a river with entrances only on one side, to the other side of the city centre, according to the newspaper.

Business secretary Greg Clark is expected to give energy firm Third Energy "its final permission to begin test fracking any day now" at a site in North Yorkshire, the Guardian reports. According to the newspaper, the fracking project at Kirby Misperton "would be the first in the UK since 2011, when two tremors registering 1.5 and 2.3 on the Richter scale woke people after tests near Blackpool".

Adventurer Bear Grylls has been given the go-ahead to open a "£20 million theme park directly in the path of a planned rail link to HS2", the Daily Telegraph reports. The newspaper says that the Bear Grylls Adventure will open next autumn with "thrill-seeking activities including scuba diving, Europe’s highest free-roam high ropes, and zip-lining from a Chinook helicopter". According to the newspaper, the proposed site in Solihull lies within an HS2 safeguarding zone, "meaning the construction of the track gets priority over any other development". "But Merlin … has finally got the stamp of approval from Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council - as long as it facilitates the construction of the overhead line (which runs over the top of buildings, much like a monorail) when the time comes," the newspaper says.

Insurance laws will be overhauled to ensure all parties are covered in any accident involving autonomous vehicles, the government has said, "on a move that paves the way for self-driving cars to be on UK roads by 2021", the Guardian reports. According to the newspaper, questions over liability have been seen as a stumbling block in the development of autonomous vehicles. "The issue is seen as being particularly acute during any transitionary period for the technology, when cars will not be fully autonomous and drivers will remain in charge of a vital legally even when cars are on autopilot," the newspaper says.

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