LONDON • British Prime Minister Theresa May called on home builders yesterday to "do their duty" and build new houses more quickly to meet demand, launching a draft policy on planning laws to try to ease Britain's housing shortage.
Mrs May has made tackling the long-term housing shortage one of her top priorities as she looks to show voters that her government is capable of delivering domestic reforms at the same time as negotiating the country's exit from the European Union.
It is also a chance for Mrs May, weakened after losing her party's majority at last year's election and under pressure from warring factions over Brexit, to get back to her original promise to build a country "that works for everyone".
But successive British governments have failed to meet home-building targets, contributing to a steep rise in prices that has left many young Britons unable to afford a property and which has driven up rental prices.
Mrs May took aim at property developers, saying their bonus structures prioritise profit over the construction of affordable homes, and warned that failure to build on approved sites could affect future decisions to award new planning permission. "I want to see planning permissions going to people who are actually going to build houses, not just sit on land and watch its value rise," Mrs May told an audience of industry leaders in London.
The British Chambers of Commerce, which represents thousands of businesses, said firms would welcome the measures to increase house building, but added: "Planning revolutions have often been promised, but usually turn out to be a false dawn."
Mrs May's Conservatives want 300,000 homes to be built per year - well above last year's level of around 217,000. The plans will be subject to an eight-week consultation, with the final version due to be published later this year.