The Government’s long-held ambition to see 300,000 homes built every year are in tatters after housing secretary Michael Gove yesterday abandoned it.
The U-turn on a policy that has been in Conservative Party manifestos for years followed a threatened rebellion by 60 MPs as the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill makes its way through parliament, and the target will now become ‘advisory’ rather than ‘mandatory’.
Former Chancellor George Osborne gave a hint that the target would be dropped, at The Negotiator Conference in London last month, during which he said the 300,000 figure would never the achieved unless the Government itself became a volume house builder.
This is unlikely in the current fiscal environment, he pointed out.
A statement from Gove’s department says: “Housing targets remain an important part of the planning system and the government will consult on how these can better take account of local density”.
Gove has also announced that, following requests from unhappy MPs, he has asked the Competition and Markets Authority to consider undertaking a market study of the house-building sector, suggesting that it is not operating “effectively to deliver the homes that people need”.
Labour says the move to abandon house building targets showed the government was ‘weak’ and that it was ‘unconscionable during a housing crisis’.
Managing Director of Stripe Property Group, James Forrester
“This is astonishingly negligent on the part of the government. House building has languished below the required 300,000 annual number since the 1950’s and that’s even with the focus and accountability of local authority facing targets.
“To remove those targets is to allow the UK’s requirement to dangle in the wind and we now have even less chance as a nation of providing adequate dwelling numbers. It’s a dumb move”.
Head of UK for Unlatch, Lee Martin
“Removing accountability for building at local authority level seems somewhat counter-intuitive to the problem at hand.
“Just as the country is slowly getting to grips with higher house-building volume and recent completions were starting to look meaningful versus need, the Secretary of State jams that momentum into reverse and effectively kills all possibility of reaching the very levels of supply that the government itself has aimed for but missed for years. It’s hardly progress.”