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Local communities could be ignored in building of 165,000 homes

Almost 165,000 new homes could be built without the scrutiny of the local community, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

The LGA is urging the government to scrap its planned changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, which it says will impose often “undeliverable” housebuilding targets on local areas.

It also argued that councils will be penalised and that communities will be “left powerless” to ensure that they are met.

Under the government’s plans, local areas will be expected to meet housing targets imposed by Whitehall.

If private house builders fail to build more than 75% of those targets by 2020, developers will be able to ignore sites that have been agreed locally and build in places that communities did not want.

As a result, just under 165,000 homes in 42% of council areas could be built by bypassing local plans by the end of the decade, according to the LGA.

House builders will be able to avoid other key factors expressed in local plans; such as ensuring the right types of homes are built in the right locations, ensuring that the homes have the appropriate infrastructure, and that enough affordable homes are provided.

The LGA is calling on the government to replace measures that allow developers a local plan with more positive tools for councils to ensure sites with planning permission are built more quickly.

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA housing spokesman, said: “The planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding – the opposite is true.

“Councils are approving nine in 10 applications and last year worked with developers to approve 350,000 new homes, the highest in more than a decade.”

He added: “It is completely unfair to impose targets on communities which can only be met by private developers, and then to penalise those local communities if those builders do not deliver.”

Tett argued that this risks leading to a “housebuilding free-for-all”, bypassing the needs of local communities and potentially damaging trust in the planning system.

“The government needs to scrap these plans to avoid this alarming scenario playing out across the country.

“Councils are committed to ensuring homes are built where they are needed. It is vital that they have an oversight of local developments and are given the powers needed to play a leading role in solving our national housing shortage,” he concluded.

Top image: Rui Vieira


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