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Prescott adds detail to house-building bonanza

Deputy prime minister John Prescott has announced a five-year action plan to ease the housing shortage and help more people onto the property ladder.

The Homes for All package aims to provide homes for at least 80,000 people by 2010 and includes a wide range of measures, including developing publicly owned land and offering cheaper property for first-time buyers.

There are also plans to launch a competition for developers to design a house for less than £60,000.

Other proposals include: a new Homebuy scheme to enable up to 300 000 social tenants to buy a share in their home; a £1.1 billion investment in four growth areas across the wider South East; and another £40 million to support other areas.

The government will also introduce powers to limit low-density development, set up new a code for sustainable buildings and make changes to the planning system to ensure more affordable housing is made available for key workers and young families in rural areas.

Launching the scheme, Mr Prescott said the proposals offered opportunity, choice and fairness in housing across the country. He added: 'Tackling the nation's chronic housing needs and giving people more choice is not just about them gaining a roof over their head - it's about giving people a stronger financial future and ensuring greater social justice.

'We are offering the most comprehensive, fair and flexible policies ever to deliver sustainable homeownership. It means more first-time buyers, more people in social housing and more key workers like nurses and teachers being able to get on to the housing ladder.'

Later this month a partner document, People, Places and Prosperity, will also be launched setting out a five-year plan of action for revitalising communities and invigorating local democracy.

by Richard Waite

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