After the Second World War the Labour party thought that the benefit of better housing should be obtained by the community as a whole rather than by the private landowner, and this perspective dominated thinking on the political left about housing until at least the end of the 1970s. During its period of office between 1945 and 1951 the Labour government exercised control over the availability of resources for house building so that local authorities were given priority access to resources. Later, in 1975, another Labour government empowered local authorities to buy land for housing at prices below its full development value for public building at reduced cost or to sell on to private developers at full market value. [Lowe, pp.251–2] The development of new towns in the late 1940s proved to be a considerable success and included, before 1951, Stevenage, Crawley, Hatfield, Newton Aycliffe, Peterlee, East Kilbride and Cwmbran, to be followed in the 1950s by Cumbernauld, and in the 1960s by Milton Keynes, Warrington, Peterborough, Northampton and Londonderry. Between 1946 and 1970, 31 new towns were designated although they accounted for only 3.5 per cent of houses built before the mid-1970s. [Lowe, p.254] During the decades following the end of the war, governments of both political persuasions tried to remedy the chronic shortage of housing, and 251,000 houses were completed in 1948, 202,000 in 1951, 308,000 in 1956, 303,000 in 1961, 396,000 in 1966, 364,000 in 1971 and 325,000 in 1976.
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