Nick Clegg is to move on Monday to differentiate the Liberal Democrats from the Tories on the highly contentious issue of garden cities by pledging to build five new towns along a train line linking Oxford and Cambridge.
The deputy prime minister, who accused the Tories earlier this year of adopting a nimby approach to house building, will say that the plan will help to create an extra 50,000 new homes in an area of intense demand for housing in the home counties.
A coalition row over housing flared up earlier this year after it emerged that the Tories had declined to publish a Whitehall report which suggested that two new garden cities needed to be built in southern England to relieve pressure on housing.
Clegg will say that the Lib Dems would insist in any future coalition negotiations that 10 new garden cities should be built, with five along a new express railway line linking Oxford and Cambridge. This used to be dubbed the “varsity line” but Clegg is now calling it the “garden city line”.