Housebuilding has been at the forefront of the Labour government’s agenda in their first week of power, and a new poll sheds light on which of the Government’s housing reform plans are most and least popular among the public.

On Monday, Rachel Reeves promised to “get Britain building again” by bringing back compulsory housebuilding targets to tackle the need for more homes across the UK.


The party offered a wide range of proposals to ensure something is done about the shortage, however, research suggests the public largely opposes one reform.

Labour raised the prospect of building on the “green belt” land, saying they will review the boundaries to prioritise brownfield and the “grey belt” land.

Rachel Reeves

Chancellor Rachel Reeves promised to “get Britain building again” in her first major speech on Monday

Getty

The grey belt land refers to poor-quality areas in the ‘green belt’, such as disused car parks and areas of wasteland.

The ‘green belt’ covers about 13 per cent of England and was established more than 70 years ago with the aim of limiting the growth of large built-up areas to stop towns merging into one another.

A new poll by YouGov shows there is great reluctance from the public to allow new housing to be built on land classified as the ‘green belt.’

Two-thirds (67 per cent) of the public oppose such a policy, while less than a quarter (23 per cent) support it.

Public opinion poll of Labour's housing reform plans

This poll shows that 67 per cent of the public oppose new housing being built on ‘green belt’ land

YouGov

The ‘green belt’ policy draws a majority opposition in every group regardless of age, region or voting history which poses a challenge in changing public perception of the issue.

The director of the countryside charity CPRE Oxfordshire, Helen Marshall, warned against building on the land saying it is “already under enormous pressure”.

Marshall said: “Ten years ago we commissioned research which showed that over 70 per cent of Oxfordshire wanted the green belt to remain undeveloped.

“Ten years later support for the green belt has increased to over 80 per cent.”

However, Charlie Hart of Knight Frank said the green belt was “conceived a long, long time ago and the world is a very different place and we’re now reviewing whether it’s fit for purpose in the modern world”.

Although the public does not support building on ‘green belt’ areas, they are in favour of a large increase in the amount of housebuilding in the UK with 62 per cent supporting the policy while only 29 per cent opposed it.

The public is also more supportive of Labour’s more fixed target of building 1.5 million new homes over the next five years with the proposal receiving support from 61 per cent of Britons.

But while targets are accepted by the public, the proposed way to enforce them has received a mixed response.

Nearly half of Britons (48 per cent) oppose giving ministers the ability to overrule councils and reinstate previously rejected planning applications with 36 per cent supporting the policy and 16 per cent not knowing.

The YouGov poll surveyed 1085 British adults from the 8th to the 9th of July 2024.