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Policy blamed for slump in house building

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Local authorities will scrap plans to build up to 300,000 new homes over the next year as a direct result of the government’s decision to abolish regional targets and spatial strategies, according to the National Housing Federation (NHF).

Research carried out by Tetlow King Planning and commissioned by the NHF revealed local authorities had already abandoned plans to build some 160,000, with the figure expected to rise dramatically over the next 12 months.

Nearly 70 councils reported halting development plans, slashing previously announced housing targets or delaying planning enquiries at appeal.

Changes to the infrastructure planning system made by the government had also exacerbated the situation, the research said.

The NHF warned housing building in the UK was now at the lowest level since 1923, with just 113,000 new homes constructed in 2009-10.

NHF chief executive David Orr said the figures proved that dismantling the planning system without setting up a viable alternative was a mistake.

He added: “The government has said that its housing policy should be judged by whether or not it delivers more homes than the last administration. As things stand the new approach to housing must be judged harshly.

“The slew of changes to the planning system has sent out a signal to local authorities that building new homes is no longer a priority – that building new homes is a nice-to-have, not a necessity. 

“But with 4.5m people on waiting lists and 2.5m people living in overcrowded conditions the building of new homes must be promoted as mission critical.

“Ministers need to grasp the nettle and put in place a new planning system that helps us deliver the homes we so desperately need.”

According to the research the following councils have made the following cutbacks on their house building targets:

  • Milton Keynes Central – 13,360 homes
  • Luton/Central Bedfordshire – 10,650 homes
  • Horsham District Council – 6,888 homes
  • Exeter City Council – 3,000 homes
  • Bristol City Council – 9,560 homes
  • Torbay Council – 5,000 homes
  • Cotswold District Council – 900 homes
  • North Somerset Council – 10,750 homes
  • North Hertfordshire Council and Stevenage Borough Council – 9,200 homes

In addition, the following councils said they will significantly reduce their targets:

  • Ashford Borough Council
  • Northampton Borough Council, Daventry District Council and South Northamptonshire Council (with regard to the West Northamptonshire Growth Area)
  • Leeds City Council
  • Aylesbury Vale
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