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26 Aug
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Labour leadership candidates' stances on development, housing and infrastructure

The Labour leadership contest has hit the headlines in recent weeks as campaigning comes to a head and the September ballot looms.

But what do the prospective leaders of Her Majesty's Opposition have in mind for planning, development, infrastructure and housing?

In this guide, we cut through the spiel and get to the bottom of what the candidates have to say on these important issues.


In case you've managed to avoid the reams of press around the contents, we'll briefly introduce the contenders below.

Andy Burnham

Burnham was Treasury chief secretary under the last Labour government in 2007, overseeing the spending review shortly ahead of the economic crisis and has been an MP for Leigh in Manchester since 2001.

In the previous Shadow cabinet, Burnham was Shadow Secretary of State for Health and a strong proponent of integrating health and social care. Following Labour's defeat in the 2015 General Election, he announced his candidacy on May 13th.

Liz Kendall

MP for Leicester West as of 2010, Kendall was appointed Shadow Junior Health Minister and later, Shadow Minister for Care and Older People in 2011 and announced her intention to run for the leadership on May 10th 2015.

Yvette Cooper

Shadow Home Secretary as of 2011, Cooper has served as an MP for Pontefract and Castleford since 1997. Under Gordon Brown's government, she was Chief Secretary to the Treasury and later, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

An experienced contender, Cooper's campaign team is thought to be among the strongest and she's adopted a stance of strong financial discipline.  

Jeremy Corbyn

Perpetual backbencher and unabashed member of Labour's left, Corbyn has seen an unexpected surge in popularity as the contest has progressed. His no-nonsense stance on austerity, environmentalism and nuclear weapons has attracted support from unions, Green party supporters and Corbyn has even been pegged as the likely winner by Rupert Murdoch.

He's been a Labour MP for more than three decades, standing in Islington North, and has been pegged as the leading candidate in numerous opinion polls.


Now that we've introduced our contenders, let's find out what they think about one of the most contentious issues facing all prospective candidates; the UK's housing crisis.

No-one can deny that Britain's caught in the mire of a worsening housing crisis, with a lack of stock and enormous waiting lists for social housing. But the ways candidates have approached this crisis differs greatly.

Andy Burnham

Burnham branded Ed Miliband's proposed mansion tax 'spiteful' and aims to facilitate private sector building to enable more people to escape the 'rental trap' and get a foot on the housing ladder sooner.

He's also pledged to offer councils more powers to buy out slum landlords with compulsory purchase orders and use the properties to boost their social housing stock.

Burnham also floated the idea of introducing a Land Value Tax that would be harder to avoid and could potentially replace other levies like business rates or council tax.

Yvette Cooper

During her campaign, Cooper issued the ambitious target of Labour facilitating the building of 300,000 homes each year, although she remains tight-lipped on how this will be accomplished and what council housing provision will be afforded.

Cooper also seeks to review the mansion tax and has warned that too many people are currently priced out of the housing market.

Liz Kendall

Kendall has taken a strong stance against housing benefits, suggesting that the money would be better spent on investing in new homes and calling for a major policy rethink on this front.

However, she's also called for more social housing and was an opponent of the bedroom tax, alongside the majority of Labour MPs.

Jeremy Corbyn

Social housing tops the list of housing policies from Corbyn, who somewhat unintuitively wants to extend the government's Right to Buy scheme to private tenants, while withdrawing it for council properties in areas afflicted by high housing stress. The significant expenditure associated with this move would be funded by curtailing the tax allowances offered to buy-to-let landlords.

Corybn has slammed private landlords for of taking advantage of the poor and vulnerable and seeks to institute rent controls, as well as easing borrowing restrictions on councils so they can contribute over half of the 250,000 homes he wants to see built each year.


Liz Kendall

Despite saying little about infrastructure in general, Kendall has warned that the state will have to 'learn to let go' and emphasised the need to maintain what works in terms of public services, presumably referring to privatisation.

Yvette Cooper

Cooper seeks to encourage much greater accountability for private companies operating public contracts, which could have wide-reaching implications for Britain's transport infrastructure.

She has also highlighted the need for public services to be revamped via digital technology to cut costs and boost efficiency.

Jeremy Corbyn

Corbyn seeks to renationalise the railways, as well as bringing energy companies under public ownership.

Elaborating on his policies in this area, he said:

"Public control should mean just that: so we should have passengers, rail workers and government too, cooperatively running the railways … in our interests and not for private profit."

Another flagship policy set out in Corbyn's economic manifesto is 'the people's quantitative easing'. This would prompt the Bank of England to print new money for a specialised investment bank, councils and other parties to facilitate new infrastructure projects.

Andy Burnham

As with Corbyn, Burnham seeks to bring railways into public ownership 'line by line' – as well as enhancing regulation of the bus industry.

However, he warned that the country couldn't foot the bill for widespread nationalisation and would take a gradual approach to bringing the railways back under public ownership.


Jeremy Corbyn

Corbyn is arguably the most outspoken of all the candidates in terms of planning, floating plans to tax undeveloped land that has planning permission and introducing 'use it or lose it' schemes on brownfield sites with a view to increasing the pace of development.

Andy Burnham

Burnham seeks to launch a National Housing Commission, which would facilitate the development of homes and when taken in tandem with his ambitious housing target, this move would have significant repercussions for planning, as well as the market in general.


Liz Kendall

Kendall has suggested Labour needs to position itself as more pro-business if it's to garner trust from the public on economic issues.

Jeremy Corbyn

The only one of the candidates to oppose a third runway at Heathrow, Corbyn is a proponent of a slight increase in corporation tax and suggests reducing business tax relief would help to reduce the deficit.

Andy Burnham

Burnham has placed an emphasis on encouraging entrepreneurs and self-employed small business owners. As mentioned, he's floated the idea of introducing a land tax to replace business rates.

Yvette Cooper

In a similar fashion to Kendall, Cooper has suggested labour has a lot of work to do if it's to repair its relationship with business following the combative stance Ed Miliband took on the issue.

To this end, she advises setting up a Business Advisory Committee to foster better relationships.


As planning, development and the country's private sector economy are so inter-linked, there's obviously a number of other policy areas that could impact on them. And while much of the candidates' campaigns thus far has focused on overarching themes, rather than tangible policies, climate changes and related growth issues have been a big feature.

Yvette Cooper

Cooper has made climate change a priority, blasting her Conservative counterparts for 'pedalling backwards' on the issue.

As such, she's expressed aims to invest three per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) into research and development, with a view to bolstering employment and hastening the pace of technological development in the field.

Andy Burnham

Burnham has been vocal in his opposition to fracking and described climate change as one of the biggest challenges of the century.

On the former issue, he seeks to curtail fracking, pending further investigation into its environmental side-effects, and if approved, thinks communities should be able to decide whether or not to permit the practice in their locality.

Liz Kendall

Kendall hasn't shared much in the way of specific policies on the green economy, beyond advocating green growth and describing climate change as being on par with the threat of Islamic extremism.

Jeremey Corbyn

As with Burnham, Corbyn seeks to ban fracking, but somewhat controversially among green campaigners, also advocates opening the coal pits of south Wales.

However, he was critical of private-driven initiatives, warning that such a serious issue as climate change can't be left in the hands of corporations that are only interested in short-term profit.


Despite five years of opposition looming for the winner, the platforms and policies they stand on will go a long way to influencing the outcome of the Labour leadership race. However, no plan survives contact with the enemy, and only time will tell whether they materialise in policy.

If you've got any thoughts on any of the topics we've covered or want to share who you're backing and why – be sure to leave us a comment or get in touch via Twitter.

And if you're looking for advice on how forthcoming policy might affect your plans for development, be sure to get in touch today. 


Images sourced from:

Enid Martindale via flickr

Leona Hobbs via flickr

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