New homes for London millennials: 15 new commuter towns should be built on green belt to solve housing crisis says think tank

A generation of “millennial” new towns needs to be built in the commuter belt circling London to provide homes for young workers priced off the housing ladder, a report concludes today. 

It says the “pioneering spirit” of post-War planning that created new towns such as Crawley, Bracknell and Milton Keynes needs to be rekindled to solve the capital’s housing crisis.

In total, 15 “new millennial towns” with 30,000 homes each should be created along major transport routes out of London, the report from the centre-Right Policy Exchange think tank says.

Each town would help meet demand for affordable home ownership, increase access to green space and provide “beautiful” housing developments. 

The think tank argues that a new Department for Growth should work with the Mayor of London and developers.

The report, co-authored by Richard Blakeway, ex-deputy mayor for housing under Boris Johnson, warns current plans to boost housing supply, including Sadiq Khan’s London Plan, will “fall short”.

The new towns proposal is likely to be controversial with environmental campaigners as it would require green-belt land to be built on.

But the report says this loss could be acceptable if the towns “are built to the highest quality … with a proportion of new homes available for discounted sale to millennials”.

Co-author Jack Airey, a research fellow at Policy Exchange, said “a more reasoned discussion” was needed about the green belt: “Most of this land deserves the utmost protection from development, but a significant chunk of farming and scrub land does not.”

Labour housing spokesman John Healey said the report “rightly identifies the need for Government to do more to … the next Labour government will start a new generation of new towns and garden cities”.

Next boss Lord Wolfson, founder of the Wolfson Economics Prize for “new thinking” on economic policy, said: “Political leaders who want to win the support of young millennial renters should read this report and act on it.”

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