Tory housing rebel claims leafy constituencies are ‘under siege’ from developments that ruin the ‘quality of life’ for affluent locals – after ministers pull vote on changes to planning laws that would make it easier to build homes amid backbench anger

  • Theresa Villiers told Sky News: ‘Our constituencies are under siege’
  • Wants to ban councils from using housebuilding targets in planning decisions 
  • Would make it easier for councils to ban building on greenfield land
  • Ex-Chancellor Sajid Javid said politicians ‘owe it’ to young people to fix housing 
  • Warned that lack of housing is UK’s ‘most significant barrier to social progress’

Affluent Tory constituencies are ‘under siege’ from ‘high-rise, high-density’ housing developments, a leading backbencher claimed today as she defended trying to scupper planning reforms that would make it easier to build homes.

Former minister Theresa Villers is at the head of a Conservative revolt that forced ministers to tear up plans for a Commons vote this week amid fears it could be lost. 

She sparked a major Tory row with an amendment to the flagship Levelling Up Bill that would ban councils from taking housebuilding targets into account when deciding on planning applications.

More than 40 MPs supported it, with ministers postponing the vote and promising to have further talks with would-be rebels. 

The amendment was one of several proposed by the former environment and Northern Ireland secretary that would make it easier for councils to ban building on greenfield land and provide more incentives to develop brownfield sites. 

But they sparked a furious internal row, with other Tories saying that any move that could cut housebuilding could see the party hemorrhage support among younger voters. Rishi Sunak wants to build at least 300,000 homes a year. 

Ms Villiers, who represents Chipping Barnet on the north west edge of London, told Sky today that she and rebels had been talking to ministers about the issue ‘again and again and again, over a period of years’. 

‘We can’t continue as we are. I and many of our colleagues have felt that our constituencies are under siege, she told Sophy Ridge on Sunday. 

Former minister Theresa Villers is at the head of a Conservative revolt that forced ministers to tear up plans for a Commons vote this week amid fears it could be lost.

More than 40 backbenchers signed an amendment to the flagship Levelling Up Bill that would ban councils from taking housebuilding targets into account when deciding on planning applications.

The amendment was one of several proposed by the former environment and Northern Ireland secretary that would make it easier for councils to ban building on greenfield land and provide more incentives to develop brownfield sites.

But former Chancellor Sajid Javid today attacked the rebels, saying politicians ‘owe it’ to young people to fix the problems stopping them getting on the housing ladder.

‘Of course, we need new homes but they need to be the right homes in the right places and they need to be supported by appropriate infrastructure.’

She added that she wanted to ‘return local control’ to the system, adding: ‘These targets I think are based on 2014, out of date population figures, they are disproportionately pushing for delivery in the crowded south east.

‘To meet those targets in the south east there’s a danger that we essentially risk making the same mistakes as in the 60s and 70s with high-rise, high-density blocks with green field development, all of which will be damaging to our environment and the quality of life of many people.’

However former Chancellor Sajid Javid today attacked the rebels, saying politicians ‘owe it’ to young people to fix the problems stopping them getting on the housing ladder.

Writing in the Sunday Times he said: ‘If we believe in the importance of a strong, stable family unit, and enter politics to help protect it, then we must also accept that homes should be made available. A lack of housing is the most significant barrier to social progress in our country today.

Reformers like (Harold) Macmillan and (Margaret) Thatcher understood this and helped expand opportunity and home ownership to millions. But if my party is to regain our hard-earned reputation in this area, housing policy needs to be strengthened, not weakened. 

‘Critics of the government have long said that current housing policy is stalling. If passed, these amendments would quickly put meaningful policy into reverse.

‘We therefore risk creating a generation that turns its back on the politicians who failed them. A generation that, without any capital of its own, becomes resentful of capitalism and capitalists.’

Source: Read Full Article