Warning after home-building targets ‘slashed’

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Councils in England have cut their home-building targets by more than 270,000 since the abolition of regional planning in 2010, according to research by the Policy Exchange think tank.

The radical reductions could result in the lowest level of house-building since the 1920s, the think tank warned.

Regional Spatial Strategies were introduced in 2004 and set planning frameworks for all areas of England outside London. They were abolished by the coalition Government in 2010 in a move designed to give local authorities more power over planning.

Councils have used this power to reduce targets, with the largest cuts in the South East (down 57,049) and South West (down 108,380) – areas with the biggest housing shortages, the research suggests. Although the targets are seldom hit, they govern the release of land for housing, meaning that less land will be made available, said Policy Exchange.

Its report calls for the Government to ensure that councils build the number of homes indicated in their targets, rather than seeking to force them to increase them.

The number and powers of neighbourhood plans should be increased, said the report, and more brown field sites should be used for housing.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said: “The analysis in this Policy Exchange report is completely wrong. Top-down regional targets didn’t work and built nothing but resentment.

“It is meaningless to point to targets which were never going to be built.”