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Tories accept need for many more new homes to be built

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The Conservative Party has signalled an end to its stringent opposition to more new homes being built in the South East.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne has announced that a Tory government would accept that more new homes are needed to enable the vast majority of first-time buyers to step on to the property ladder.

The David Cameron ally also suggested that the Conservative Party leadership is prepared to drop its outright opposition to building on greenfield land.

Speaking at a property conference in Bristol, Osborne said he was keen to see more involvement from local rural communities in decisions about whether rural housing schemes should go ahead.

But he also attacked the methods used by the ODPM in rolling out the Sustainable Communities Plan, insisting that there ought to be more pragmatism in housing policy.

'The government has imposed top-down housing targets, set in Whitehall and administered by unelected, unaccountable and unwanted regional government,' he said.

'Nothing is more certain to arouse the hostility and obstruction of local communities. Nothing is more likely to lead to the wrong homes being built in the wrong places.'

And he once again committed the Tories to environmental issues. 'We need to make sure that high eco-standards are part and parcel of the design of new housing,' he said.

'This is essential for the country if we are to meet our climate change obligations, and highly desirable for the homeowner in an age of rising fuel bills.'

by Ed Dorrell

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