The former Brexit secretary David Davis has called for councils to be given the power to create garden villages in order to fix the growing housing crisis.
Delivering the fifth annual Margaret Thatcher Centre Lecture in London, Mr Davis called for a New Towns Act, which would allow local authorities to develop garden villages of between 1,500 and 5,000 homes.
He added such garden villages would justify at least one primary school, local centre, shops, a bus service, and would justify connection to fibre-optic links and other services.
The larger villages would also justify a secondary school and leisure facilities.
‘The shortfall in homes is enormous, and we need a radical a change in policy,’ said Mr Davis.
‘If every rural English authority built a garden village along these lines it would amount to around 1 million new homes,’ said Mr Davis.
‘This is just one idea. There are many others we should consider to return to our Conservative model of a property-owning democracy.’
The former Brexit secretary also spoke about extending the Government’s controversial Right-to-Buy scheme to housing associations.
‘We should allow the housing associations to build new houses with the money that comes in from such a scheme,’ said Mr Davis.
‘The [Conservative] Party has from time to time played with this idea, and this time we should make it front and centre to appeal to less well-off families. We should also create flexible or transferable right to buy schemes.’
The speech was given before it was announced that prime minister Theresa May will face a vote of no-confidence from her own MPs later today (12 December).
‘For ordinary people, we have a completely broken housing market,’ added Mr Davis.
‘Our planning structures and decisions have failed to keep up with the sharp increase in our population, driven in part by immigration. House prices have grown about seven times as fast as net family incomes. This has encouraged speculative behaviour on the part of house builders, and a strong suspicion that they manage their land banks to maximise their capital gains by creating artificial shortages.
‘The current planning and building regulation mechanisms have left us with homes are smaller than almost anywhere else in Europe, and half the size they were in the 1920s. Fewer houses than ever are built with gardens.’