UK Housebuilding Target 'Impossible', MPs Told

Ministers are unlikely to deliver 300,000 new homes per year after the watering down of a housebuilding target from mandatory to advisory status, MPs have warned.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak decided in December to make the target advisory rather than mandatory as he looked to see off a potential Conservative backbench rebellion.

in a report published on Friday, however, the Levelling Up, Housing & Communities Committee said its inquiry into the situation had been told the six-figure target would be “impossible to achieve”.

Clive Betts, the Labour chair of the cross-party panel of MPs, said the downgrade of the target’s status was “already having a damaging impact on efforts to increase the building of new homes”.

The 44-page report, Reforms to National Planning Policy, states the government has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate how the policy of scrapping mandatory local housing targets will directly lead to more housebuilding.

MPs said that, while the government is on track to deliver one million new homes over the course of the current parliament, it is not forecast to deliver 300,000 net new homes per year by the mid-2020s.

“The government’s reform proposals include making local housing targets advisory and removing the need for local authorities to continually demonstrate a deliverable five-year housing land supply,” the report says.

“We have heard evidence from many stakeholders that these measures will render the national housing target impossible to achieve.”

Betts added: “we have a national shortage of housing in England and there’s evidence the government’s latest shake-up of planning rules is already having a damaging impact on efforts to increase the building of new homes.

“Without urgent action, the government will fail to achieve its national housing target of building 300,000 net new homes per year by the mid-2020s.

“Planning consultants say annual housebuilding will go down to around 150,000 a year under the government’s proposed policy reforms.

“The prospect of a major hit to the building of new homes resulting from the government’s planning rule changes is deeply concerning, especially for people wanting to get on the housing ladder, families eager to move home, and communities crying out for affordable places to live.”

The committee said ministers had promised to publish their own analysis of December’s decision but that it had been delayed after originally being due in spring.

Meanwhile, housing Secretary Michael Gove told the Local Government Association’s conference last week that the UK Government remained “committed” to delivering 300,000 houses annually.

In particular, he highlighted how UK housing targets were met in the 1950s but that some of that stock was “now affected by damp, by mould and by dilapidation that actually puts people’s lives at risk.”


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