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Cameron plans to boost home-building amid supply drought

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UK Prime Minister David Cameron set out plans on Monday to force local authorities to build new properties, as the government seeks to boost home ownership and housebuilding.

[LONDON] UK Prime Minister David Cameron set out plans on Monday to force local authorities to build new properties, as the government seeks to boost home ownership and housebuilding.

Councils must produce their plans by 2017 or face proposals from the central government, Mr Cameron said in a statement. Housing is a central part of the Conservative Party's policy platform after it won a surprise majority in May's general election. The government wants to deliver 1 million new homes by 2020.

"We need a national crusade to get homes built and everyone must play their part," Mr Cameron said. If councils "fail to act, we'll work with local people to produce a plan for them," he said.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has warned that Britain's acute property shortage is set to worsen and said an imbalance of supply and demand will push prices up 6 per cent in 2015.

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Mr Cameron, seeking to bolster supply, said funds will be made available to help councils build affordable "starter homes" on brown-field sites and that planning permissions and regulations will be relaxed. A temporary rule introduced in May 2013 that allows the conversion of disused offices into homes without planning permission will be made permanent, he said.

While Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy and parliamentary affairs at RICS welcomed the measures, he said fast implementation was needed.

"The system needs to really pick up speed in order to deliver the vibrant property sector on which the success of our economy depends," he said.

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