Conservatives reject Labour’s call for a housing minister

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Norway’s Conservative Party (Høyre) rejects a call from Norway’s Labour-led government coalition for creation of a new ministry in charge of housing. Labour thinks housing politics need more attention, not least to address affordability issues.

Norway needs at least 30,000 new residential units every year to meet housing demand, according to new studies. Newspaper Aftenposten reported earlier this week that Labour wants Norway to do what Sweden, Finland and Denmark have done, and create a government ministry aimed at forcing municipalities to speed up housing construction and streamline the permit process.

Labour’s proposal puts it on a collision course with its own two government partners, the Center Party (which favors rural areas in Norway over the cities, where housing demand is highest) and the Socialist Left party (SV), which seeks to preserve open areas and restrict building in surrounding forests.

Now Labour also faces opposition from the Conservatives, who don’t think a housing ministry is needed. “We won’t get more homes by expanding the government,” Conservatives’ leader Erna Solberg told Aftenposten on Tuesday.

Given Norway’s rapid population growth, though, Solberg does support consolidating housing politics in one ministry instead of spreading it over two as is the case today, with policies currently handled by both the ministry for regional governments and the ministry for the environment.

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