Campaigning focuses on simplified messages about development, but politicians should be brave enough to explain the benefits of housebuilding, says Paul Smith
A bumper crop of local elections is almost upon us, along with a number of metro mayor positions also up for grabs. With new homes becoming ever more unaffordable despite the economic impact of the pandemic and worsening over-crowding of the homes that we do have, you’d be right to think that house building is playing a central role in election campaigns - just not in the way you’d think.
In Manchester - where house prices rose more than in any other UK city over the last five years - mayoral candidates are lining up against new house building, with most openly opposing any new development on the green belt. The exception is the incumbent, odds-on favourite and popularly proclaimed King of the North, Andy Burnham. Except - far from being pro-development - he is instead silent. Save for a tangential reference to housing via his campaign to end rough sleeping in the city, Burnham’s campaign messaging studiously avoids any reference to house building at all.
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