Annual ‘housing targets’ should be set across England to make sure planned new homes are built said a Tory MP who pointed to unused planning permissions in districts such as Wealden.
Conservative MP Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle) told the Commons: “The 2020 White Paper promised us a once-in-ageneration reform to planning policy. These present proposals appear somewhat unambitious and modest in contrast.”
He added: “Wealden and Rother district councils have issued 10,000 planning permissions which have not been built out, yet they still have to deliver 2,000 new homes between them each year.
“Surely at the very least we can have annual housing targets which take into account those houses not yet built out, so developers build rather than landbank.”
Mr Merriman’s call for yearly building targets came as he branded the Government’s planning reform proposals in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill ‘unambitious and modest’.
Housing minister Stuart Andrew replied: “The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will improve our planning system and give residents more involvement in local development. The Bill will strengthen and scale up neighbourhood planning and enable the piloting of street votes, supported by new digital tools to give communities more say in the developments that affect them.”
‘Surely at the very least we can have annual housing targets which take into account those houses not yet built out’
He added: “We have got measures within the Bill that are trying to address build-out rates. This is an important element that we have to tackle… We will do everything we can to ensure that the houses that have got permission are actually built.”
The 2020 Planning for the Future White Paper has reportedly proved unpopular with Conservative MPs in traditional Tory-voting areas of the country, with constituents worried it would lead to a huge house-building drive.
But some Conservatives still raised concerns with the softer reforms set out in the new Bill.
Conservative MP Henry Smith (Crawley) said: “Homes England are proposing up to 10,000 houses on flood-prone green fields… just outside of my constituency, which would put unacceptable pressure on local infrastructure, and yet local people in my constituency – even though they would be most affected – have no say over it.
“How will these planning proposals allow the people of Crawley to say no?” Wantage MP David Johnston said: “It’s not simply the sheer number of developments in my constituency and the pressure they place on local infrastructure that constituents object to, it’s also the environmental impact of the way the homes are constructed… I would like to see a requirement that homes are built to the latest environmental standard rather than the one at the time permission was granted.”