Think tank sets out 16 key proposals for densifying towns and cities including new tram lines and converting dual carriage ways into tree-lined streets

Influential think tank Create Streets has called on the next government to unlock more housing by creating new tram lines and building homes on industrial parks.

The group, founded by Nicholas Boys Smith, promotes traditional architectural styles and has long had the ear of key Conservative party insiders including communities secretary Michael Gove.

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One of the visuals produced by Create Streets for the Labour party last month

But its influence has now stretched to the Labour party, which is widely expected to win today’s general election by a large margin.

Last month shadow housing secretary Angela Rayner outlined Labour’s plans to win over the public by focusing on traditional designs as part of its plans to build 1.5 millions homes during the course of the next Parliament if the party gains power.

Rayner published a series of visuals drawn up for Labour by Create Streets showing a high street lined with Victorian and Edwardian style buildings.

The think tank has now published a ‘manifesto for homes, hope and health’ setting out 16 “key actions” that the nex government should take to ensure new homes are built under the principles of gentle density and regenerative development.

The proposals include reimagining land used for big box retail sheds and light industrial units by mixing in homes and walkable streets.

The group said the so-called ‘box-land’ which often stretches along motorways and around the edges of towns serves important economic needs but is “incredibly wasteful” of space and expensive to create and services. 

“It can often be reinvented in such a way to maintain existing uses but also allow it to ‘grow’ into real places by mixing in ‘gentle density’ homes,” the document said.

The group also wants the next government to put in place design codes for mansion blocks which could be  pre-permitted by councils in certain locations.

Other proposals include transforming dual carriageways into wide streets lined with trees, housing, shops and offices and stopping highways departments from blocking new homes with “obscure highways modelling mistakes”.

The document also supports much greater use of trams in towns as a low-carbon and less polluting alternative to cars.

It said legislation dating to the 1990s had unintentionally made it “nearly impossible” to green light new trams in the UK, where it is two and a half times more expensive per mile to create new tram lines than in France and almost three times more expensive than in Germany.