Over years of campaigning in Hackney, I've heard how people are concerned about the lack of new and affordable housing in their areas. Put simply, there is huge demand for housing and not enough supply, which is why prices and rents have risen so fast. We need to try and meet that demand by increasing supply. There's no one solution, but I'll do the following:
- Get young people into the building trade. At the moment, we don't have enough housing, builders say they can't find the skilled workers they need and youth unemployment (while falling) is still too high. If we can train young people in those building skills by encouraging businesses to take on more apprentices, then we can address all three problems at once. If I'm elected as an MP, I'll work with builders, colleges and anyone else who can help to make this work.
- Get Britain building again. There is space to build in Hackney. We need good quality, high density housing, as much of it as possible affordable and social, built in keeping with our existing housing stock. We don't have to build tower blocks like the one Hackney Council is imposing on my neighbourhood against the wishes of local people; Create Streets have shown how high density housing can be low rise.
- Make better use of the buildings we have. All of us pass derelict buildings every day - I want to see those brought back into use and repurposed.
- Allow people to extend their homes sensitively to provide room for their families. In some parts of our borough, extending existing homes is the only way to keep existing communities together. There are three simple questions I think we should use in determining whether an extension is permitted: do your neighbours object? Will you do the work in the same material as the rest of the building so that it looks consistent? And will the work be good quality so that it will last? If you can say yes to all three, then I think the presumption should be in favour of extending.