L&Q welcomes Labour leaders to Milton Keynes to discuss challenges for first-time buyers

Published on 15/11/2022

Leading housing association L&Q welcomed Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves on a tour of Saxon Reach, a new development in Milton Keynes today.

The politicians learned more about the current market conditions for first-time buyers and heard from L&Q residents about their experience buying their first home through shared ownership.

The Leader of the Opposition was welcomed on site by L&Q’s Chief Executive Fiona Fletcher-Smith, who briefed him on L&Q’s ambition to deliver the affordable homes the UK desperately needs whilst investing to improve existing homes and services for residents.

L&Q has started the industry’s largest investment programme to invest over £2bn over 15 years in the safety, quality, comfort and environmental performance of resident’s homes. This is alongside a £250 million fire safety programme which is underway.

The housing association has also built over 2,000 new homes in the first six months of 2022, heading for another year of delivering over 4,000 homes in 2022/23, a record not only for L&Q but for the housing association sector overall.

Whilst on site, the Labour politicians and L&Q directors also discussed the challenges facing both residents and the housing sector associated with severe economic uncertainty and the rising cost of living.

L&Q Group Chief Executive, Fiona Fletcher-Smith said:

“At L&Q we strongly believe that everyone deserves a quality home that provides them with the opportunity to live a better life. And whether that dream home is a flat in London, a family home in the suburbs or a larger house away from the hustle and bustle of urban life, your dream should be attainable.

“We were therefore very encouraged to hear that housing is one of the Labour Party’s main priorities and especially helping first-time buyers on the property ladder.

“There is much to be done, however, and we want to work with partners across the political spectrum, as the rising costs of labour and materials, policy uncertainty and rising interest rates are impacting our ability to deliver not just shared ownership homes but homes of all tenures, including social rent.”

Starmer, Reeves and Fletcher-Smith stopped along their tour of the Saxon Reach estate to chat with some of L&Q’s newest residents on the estate, who have recently purchased a home through shared ownership. They then spoke with a group of Milton Keynes residents who are still struggling to get on the property ladder.

Construction at Saxon Reach started in 2019 to deliver 225 new homes, and of the 172 dwellings built, 170 are already occupied, demand is still very high, especially for shared ownership homes, which allow first-time buyers to purchase a small share of their house outright, at a smaller cost.

These new homes available at Saxon Reach go a long way in supporting Milton Keynes Council to meet their current housing need. They are part of a significant mixed-use development allocation at Wavendon, for approximately 2,900 homes and 80 acres of employment land in the Milton Keynes Core Strategy. This is currently being led on by L&Q Estates, part of L&Q, who have invested just shy of £18m in local infrastructure to facilitate the delivery of homes and facilities on site.

Also present on the visit was Cllr Emily Darlington, Labour Candidate for Milton Keynes South and Cabinet Member for Adults, Housing and Healthy Communities at Milton Keynes Council, who have been key partners in seeing works through at Saxon Reach and Wavendon.