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Grant Shapps: Creating a "Nation of Homebuilders"

12 years in power... 10 Housing related Acts of Parliament... 9 Housing Ministers.

...I've faced 4 of 'em. But what's the result of all that upheaval?

Fewer homes built than at any time since the 2nd World War...

With more repossessions...

Fewer First Time Buyers...

And nearly twice as many families languishing on the housing waiting lists.

And when it comes to selling your own home they've introduced that pointless red-tape. The Home Information Pack.

I've said it before... I'll say it again...

HIPs are History under the next Conservative Government.

And Gordon Brown could be the first to benefit - when his removal van pulls up outside Number 10!

But today let's talk about the big picture.

Because you and I know this country needs more homes.

Homes for our children and grandchildren.

But we also know that the top-down, Soviet style, Labour approach to housing just isn't working.

So we'll scrap the unelected Regional Assemblies, abolish the Regional Spatial Strategies and dump the pointless Labour housing targets..

Because if they haven't delivered by now, they never will.

So how are we going to become a nation of homebuilders?

Well let's start by giving people something in return for development.

When your community builds more homes, we'll match pound-for-pound the extra money that your area gets through council tax for 6 years.

And the more ambitious you are - the more money your neighbourhood will get.

Imagine the results? Better services... reduced council tax... at last, residents actually getting something positive out of growth!

But you know what I think is really crazy?

Ministers spending all their time banging on about bigger housing targets...

And yet when a community actually wants to build, they're often told they can't.

Take Essendon in my own constituency of Welwyn Hatfield...

One evening I went along to the village hall to hear how worried locals are about development.

Perhaps they would tell me about the insanity of the government insisting 15,000 new homes are built, whilst axing the major services at our local hospital?

But no.

These villagers wanted to discuss creating homes for local families in desperate need.

They couldn't understand why Government policy actually prevents them from redeveloping a load of asbestos-ridden, post-war, rotting bungalows.

Locals wanting to secure the future of their village but the system, Quangos, red tape stopping them.

And it's a story I've seen repeated across the country.

And that's why - for the first time - our Local Housing Trusts will give people the power to expand their villages by up to 10% over 10 years.

Sheltered accommodation for the old... affordable homes for the young... supporting shops, schools, GP surgeries. People at last really shaping their own communities

But I don't want the principles of Local Housing Trusts just to be a countryside thing.

Our towns and inner-cities must benefit too.

Earlier this year I visited the Penrhos Estate. A place where anti-social behaviour once was rife and the quality of life poor.

But one woman wasn't prepared to see her community decline any further.

Joyce Thomas got the residents organised... battled bureaucracy... harried officials... and eventually - against the odds - injected new life into the place

Residents joined together to regenerate their neighbourhood.

They were inspired by Joyce. So was I.

It's precisely the kind of social action at street level that really works!

You know, Joyce is one of Britain's do-ers. And there are thousands like her all over the country - hundreds in this hall.

But so often you have been ignored... overridden... and discounted by this government. And it's time to put you in charge.

So if you have a vision to regenerate the place you call home... forget waiting for bureaucrats from-on-high to ride to the rescue...

We'll back your street level initiative; help you regenerate your area, and empower you to reclaim your neighbourhood.

  • So incentives and planning reform to build more homes...
  • Local Housing Trusts allowing villages to flourish...
  • Towns and inner-cities regenerated from street level...

It's progressive stuff. But in housing we've always been the progressive party.

  • Harold MacMillan built 300,000 homes for heroes every year.
  • In 1967 it was Iain MacLeod who set up the homeless charity Crisis.
  • Margaret Thatcher and the Right to Buy, realised the dreams of 2 million new homeowners.
  • It was Sir George Young as Housing Minister in the 90's who helped to create 90,000 affordable homes - even in the midst of a global recession.
  • And isn't it great to have Sir George back

Today we continue that progressive tradition:

  • Individual and social responsibility;
  • Trusting and empowering people and their families;
  • Recognising and rewarding aspiration;

Fine words... but what do they actually mean?

Let me tell you... we won't be playing it safe - instead we will be offering bold plans to deal with the big problems the country faces.

So under Conservatives, social tenants who want to relocate for employment - or just to be closer to elderly relatives - will be able to take advantage of our Right to Move policy.

And our Foot on the Ladder scheme will provide an equity stake for great social tenants to cash in when they move out, freeing up a home for a family on the housing waiting list.

It isn't just about moving up or out. As compassionate Conservatives, we recognise the importance of social housing and the security it provides. We will protect and respect the rights of social tenants.

But how about the challenge of climate change?

In just a few years time all new homes will be zero carbon.

But no one seems to be talking about the 25 million homes that are already here...

... They account for over a quarter of the Co2 emissions in this country...

... And they'll still be standing halfway through this century.

So we will give employers the opportunity to get to zero carbon themselves, by greening up their employees homes.

The Carbon Co-operation plan will lower emissions ... reduce energy bills... tackle fuel poverty... and help to protect our planet.

But protecting our environment also means looking after our green spaces.

And here Labour has got it wrong...

That's why we'll ditch this government's obsession with concreting over the countryside and stop them deleting our green belt.

They've introduced national density targets leading to a glut of 1 and 2 bed flats, but resulting in a shortage of family homes.

So we'll scrap their targets... dump their diktats... and end their nationwide stack 'em high approach to housing.

And whilst we're at it... let's end garden grabbing too.

Because all these things take power away from local communities.

This government doesn't trust people. But we do.

We want to create nothing less than a nation of homebuilders...

... So we'll give you the tools... the incentives... and the power to build.

And in return, we will share the heavy responsibility for results;

Not through targets or bureaucracy, but with a simple measure of success; building more homes together.

The right homes in the right places. Affordable homes, family homes, well designed, and always green.

But vitally, we understand that building communities is about more than just bricks and mortar...

It's about what makes a house a home. People.

Joyce Thomas is a homebuilder. She's improving the lives of everyone on her estate.

All the mums and dads... grannies and grandpas who strive to raise a family; they're homebuilders too.

After Labour's catastrophic housing failure, the challenge for us today could not be clearer...

As we transfer power from...

  • the Parliamentary Estate... to Your Estate
  • from the Westminster Village... to Your Village
  • from Downing Street... to Your Street

Together we will build the homes, the communities and the future that this country needs.

Together, we will become a nation of homebuilders

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