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Can anyone tell me what the Lib Dem housing policy is?


By Julian Seymour

It’s the time of year when the main parties start to publish their conference agendas, and in the case of the Liberal Democrats, their policy ideas. One of the biggest issues for the Liberal Democrats has been how they could further their national agenda to build more homes across the country, while authorities where they are in control of the council often seek to minimise house building. 

After a long deliberation, which included a discussion paper at the 2022 Spring conference, the Liberal Democrat Homes and Planning Working Group has released its draft policy for debate at Party Conference in September. With the backing of the national leadership, it seems like that the policy will go through, albeit perhaps with a few amendments. 

We look at what is in, and what is out: 


  1. National house building targets – developers are driven by market demand and profit, and not the national need (there may be an amendment or two coming in on this topic- particularly from younger members, possibly Liberal Reform)
  2. Help to Buy – condemned as ineffective and expensive
  3. Right to Buy for housing association properties 


  1. 150,000 per year target delivery of Affordable and Social Homes by the end of the Parliament
  2. Binding delivery targets on all local authorities on Affordable and Social Homes in their areas, which could be paid for by council debt
  3. 10 new garden cities (locations not specified) 
  4. A “fairer land market” by reforming the Land Compensation Act and extending the Commercial Landowner Levy to land which has planning permission
  5. Higher minimum building standards and Modern Methods of Construction to improve environmental performance 
  6. Locally designed and implemented “Environmental Improvement Areas”
  7. Leasehold reform 

Perhaps most intriguing is the commitment to “a new approach to housing targets”(clauses 2) that are “appropriate to the specific areas needs” – in other words a new Standard Methodology – combined with something that sounds not dissimilar to regional planning (even if they are a little nervous of saying it): 

Ensuring that all development has appropriate infrastructure, services and amenities in place, including, through integrating infrastructure and public service delivering into the planning process. (clauses 6)

Together these two clauses provide the backdrop for an approach which allows the Liberal Democrats to talk about big numbers of new homes nationally, while continuing with a local approach which matches the number of homes to infrastructure on hand. In other words, allow local parties to continue to control development in areas under pressure from house builders. 

While it is extremely unlikely that the Liberal Democrats will control the national government soon there is a scenario in which they become a key partner for a Labour administration – or that some of their ideas are picked up by some of the major parties. 

The debate will be live in the main hall in Bournemouth on Monday 25 September. Cratus will be there to see how younger members who want new homes fare against campaigners fighting for their existing residents. We’ll keep you right up to date. 

10 August 2023