30th Nov, 2020

Malvern Council leader's fears planning reforms could bring 50,000 new homes to south Worcestershire

PROPOSED planning reforms could lead to more than 50,000 new homes being built across South Worcestershire in unsustainable locations, worsening the affordable housing crisis.

The warning from Malvern Hills District Council leader Coun Sarah Rouse comes amidst a consultation by the Government on changes to the current planning system.

The proposals, together with the Planning for the Future white paper, have been described as the biggest shake-up of the planning system since the Second World War.

Ministers say changes are necessary to speed up the building of new homes, to tackle the affordable housing crisis and boost the country’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

But Coun Rouse fears the proposed methodology used to calculate the number of new homes needed, would result in 51,640 new homes being built across South Worcestershire over 20 years – effectively doubling the number of homes currently deemed necessary.

She said it would force building in unsuitable and unsustainable locations and take no account of efforts to tackle climate change.

The proposal to build more First Homes – where a 30 per cent discount is given to first time buyers, serving members and veterans of the Armed Forces and key workers – also poses problems according to the leader.

She claims it would likely result in a drop in affordable housing provision, meaning those in real need of housing would miss out in favour of those struggling to make it on to the property ladder.

Coun Rouse said: “We have seen – and are properly planning for – significant levels of growth to meet local housing need across this area already.

“The lack of skills and availability of labour in the construction industry are more likely factors behind any delay in building new homes than issues with the planning system.”

She urged the Government to heed her concerns and called on it to urgently rethink these proposals which she said would end up doing more harm than good.

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