Ruth Davidson will today announce Conservative plans to build up to eight new towns to give young adults a realistic chance of buying their own home.
In a speech in Edinburgh, the Scottish Tory leader will warn that the challenges facing the housing sector are the most serious since the aftermath of the Second World War. Ms Davidson will argue for a new generation of new towns to be built near Scotland’s existing conurbations.
As she looks ahead to the beginning of the parliamentary term next week, Ms Davidson will attempt to put housing at the forefront of the political agenda. She will also call for a new housing agency to support major developments and streamline planning. The agency would work to ensure that roads and other public services are in place to serve new communities.
Ms Davidson will say the housing portfolio should be promoted to Cabinet rank and there should be a plan to ensure Scotland returns to building 25,000 homes a year.
The new Tory housing policy will be part of a drive by Ms Davidson to present the Conservatives as a potential party of government by moving on from the constitution to concentrate on domestic policy.
The new towns should be modelled on settlements such as Chapelton, outside Aberdeen, and Tornagrain, outside Inverness. Chapelton, a community of 8,000 houses, has been developed through landowner the Duke of Fife, the local authority and developers working together.
Young adults have been struggling to get on to the property ladder. Of those who do, a large proportion rely on the “bank of mum and dad” to help them pay deposits.
Addressing the Institute for Public Policy Research, Ms Davidson will say: “The last time we had a housing crisis on this scale was in the aftermath of World War Two. Back then, politicians had the courage to act in order to get building. We now need to find the same courage to address today’s needs.
“Market failure is depriving thousands of young people one of the most basic opportunities in society: the ability to buy and own your home.
“Our mailbags as MSPs are now full of concerns about housing: from people on the waiting list for a council house, to couples unable to afford a starter home. We need to do something about it.”
Building new towns has previously been suggested by the Scottish Housing Commission, set up by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, two years ago. The last major new town building programme in Scotland took place in the 1960s when Cumbernauld, Glenrothes, East Kilbride, Irvine and Livingston were built.
“It is time to seize the moment – and look at a series of new generation new towns,” Ms Davidson will say. “We are already seeing some beautiful new villages and towns springing up in Scotland which have put high quality design, affordable homes, and community values at the heart of their development.
“If we can learn from the ambition of the post-war generation, we can learn from their mistakes too – by, for example, putting the needs of people and communities first. By acknowledging that we are not just building housing, we are in the job of creating homes, nurturing communities, and adding to the beauty of our country.”
Labour housing spokeswoman Pauline McNeil said: “No-one will trust the Tories to deliver these policies. Ruth Davidson talks about the worst housing crisis since World War II, but forgets to mention it was a radical Labour government that fixed it.”