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Councils warned to meet homes targets or lose planning powers

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Councils in England could be stripped of planning powers if not enough homes are being built in their areas, Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has warned.

Mr Javid told the Sunday Times he would be "breathing down" the necks of local authorities to ensure building targets, set by the government, are met.

Theresa May, who will unveil the plans on Monday, told the BBC the level of house building was a "real problem".

However, Labour accused the government of "eight years of failure on housing".

On Monday, the government will announce an overhaul of planning rules in an attempt to increase the rate of house building in England.

'Market prices'

A new planning policy framework will contain new rules to determine how many homes councils must build - taking into account local house prices, wages and key worker numbers.

Higher targets will be set for areas where house prices outstrip annual earnings.

"For the first time it will explicitly take into account the market prices," Mr Javid told the Sunday Times.

"If you are in an area where the unaffordability ratio is much higher you will have to build even more. It will make clear to councils that this number is a minimum, not a maximum."

He said councils would also be held to account on house-building promises they make.

Mr Javid said councils that fail to meet targets will be stripped of the right to decide what is built within their boundaries, with inspectors making decisions instead.

media caption'Government will intervene' on house building

Prime Minister Theresa May told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show the government would "release more public sector land" to facilitate more building of homes.

She added: "We're saying to councils you've got to take local communities into account, you've got to ensure you've got a proper plan for your local area. If you haven't got it the government will intervene."

Chief executive of housing charity Shelter, Polly Neate, said it appeared the government was "waking up to the scale of our housing emergency".

"The planning system is not delivering for most people at the moment and the key test for Theresa May and Sajid Javid will be whether the plans they announce on Monday will be able to unblock the obstacles to building the genuinely affordable homes that our communities desperately need and which this government has so far not been able to deliver," she added.

Mr Javid said his new rules were designed to stop "Nimby [Not In My Back Yard] councils that don't really want to build the homes their local community needs" from fudging the numbers in their area.

"We have a housing crisis in this country. We need a housing revolution," he added.

Mr Javid also revealed plans to build up to five new towns between Oxford and Cambridge.

"Along that corridor there's an opportunity to build at least four or five garden towns and villages with thousands of homes," he added.

'Whitehall's fault'

It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May last month declared it her "personal mission to build the homes this country needs so we can restore the dream of home ownership".

In November, Chancellor Philip Hammond abolished stamp duty on homes up to £300,000 for first-time buyers.

However, John Healey, Labour's shadow housing minister, said Mr Javid's "year-old policy" showed the government has "no proper plan to fix the housing crisis".

"Eight years of failure on housing is the fault of Whitehall, not town halls," he said.

"Since 2010, home ownership has fallen to a 30-year low, rough sleeping has more than doubled, and the number of new homes being built still hasn't recovered to pre-recession levels."

Related Topics

  • Housing
  • Sajid Javid

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