CHANCELLOR George Osborne revealed yesterday that he will set up an urban development corporation to kickstart the first garden city in 100 years at Ebbsfleet in Kent, a project that will see 15,000 new properties built at the site.
Ahead of his Budget statement on Wednesday, Osborne also announced that he will extend the Help to Buy scheme for new homes to 2020 in a move that it claims will facilitate the construction of 120,000 units.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, the chancellor said he wants to focus on getting Britain building, adding that the two new projects would boost economic stability and resilience.
He said the government would continue the Help to Buy scheme for the rest of the decade for new-build homes and said the Ebbsfleet project would provide accommodation for between 23,000 and 34,000 people.
“In Ebbsfleet there is the land available, there is fantastic infrastructure, with a high-speed line. It’s on the river, it’s in the south-east of England, where a lot of the housing pressure has been, and, crucially, we’ve got local communities and local MPs who support the idea,” he added.
The project also has the support of Labour’s Lord Adonis, who published a report last month calling for the new town to be built. Planning permission was granted for 6,000 homes in Ebbsfleet in 2007, but projects have been delayed and just 300 homes have been built. Plans were initially drawn up for the site in 1996.
Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the plans are “too little too late”. He added: “Labour is saying we should match Help to Buy with Help to Build. What the chancellor has done today is re-announce an old policy. It’s not enough and he should do more.”
Balls was also interviewed on the Marr show yesterday, where he admitted that a future Labour government would not reverse the VAT hike, and stressed that he would not announce any policies that were unfunded. He added that Labour would reintroduce the 50p tax rate, a key election battleground.
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