Shropshire Star

Star comment: Not sure Labour's plan to tackle unsatisfactory housing crisis will work

It is both remarkable and deeply unsatisfactory that the nation’s housing crisis has not been solved. For generations, planners have known there is a need to develop more affordable homes, yet little is ever done.


Labour’s leader, Sir Keir Starmer, who may become the nation’s next Prime Minister, thinks he has the answer. He wants local councils to be more involved in decisions, particularly those relating to development in the Green Belt.

People may see his idea as a way to unlock the housing crisis, or they may perceive it to be an attack on our green and pleasant land.

Keir Starmer’s idea to allow councils to decide if they build on green belt can be interpreted in different ways, depending on your point of view.

Urban areas of the West Midlands are desperate for new housing. Many communities in the greener fringes of the region – Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire – are desperate to keep their fields green.

Meanwhile, there are large swathes of brownfield land in our town and cities that are lying empty.

It makes sense for councils to determine their own housing policy, but attempts by West Midland authorities to work together to create a co-ordinated local plan for the future have not worked.

To put councils in charge will arguably mean more of the same confusion going forward. There will be vested interests and a refusal to work together, as some adopt a NIMBY approach, as others focus on costs, and as some are swayed by public opinion.

It is difficult to see how Sir Keir’s ideas will bring about the transformative change required.