Nearly 400,000 homes will be built on protected rural land

Assault on the greenbelt: Nearly 400,000 homes will be built on rural land in south of England to meet government’s house-building target over next five years

  • Tory MPs are concerned housing formula will see more development in the south
  • Formula is used to decide number of homes needed using data like house prices 
  • Prices higher in southern areas so formula is set to suggest more building there  

Nearly 400,000 homes could be built on greenfield areas in southern England over the next five years to meet revised housebuilding targets, a new analysis found today.

The south will see the bulk of new builds because the government’s formula assumes that more housing is needed in areas where prices are higher. The south also has fewer brownfield sites.

More than 11,000 houses could be built in rural Cornwall alone, while Buckinghamshire will need to allow at least 10,000. 

Meanwhile, ‘red wall’ constituencies will see less development because prices are cheaper.

The south will see the bulk of new builds because the government’s formula assumes that more housing is needed in areas where prices are higher. The south also has fewer brownfield sites

The figures – uncovered by The Times by analysing publicly-available data – risk a backlash from Conservative back benches already concerned that planning reforms will alienate traditional supporters in the shires.

Tory rebels last year forced a u-turn over a ‘mutant algorithm’ that could have sparked a planning free-for-all in the shires.

In response an updated ‘Standard Method was unveiled’ in December. This considers housing targets, brownfield capacity and local house prices to come up with a number of homes that each local authority has to build.

Theresa Villiers, the former environment secretary, said today: ‘Despite significant changes to the government’s housing algorithm, there is still far too much pressure to build in London and the south.

‘Cramming more and more homes into the south will do nothing to deliver the government’s promises on levelling up the north.’

Greenfield sites are areas that have not been previously developed while brownfield sites have been recent building.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: ‘To compare housing delivery in different parts of the country based on Local Housing Need formula is to misunderstand the nature and purpose of these numbers.

‘That’s not how they work and this analysis is misleading.’

There has been widespread Tory backbencher anger over planning reforms that some have dubbed a ‘developers’ charter’ that would hit the party’s ‘Blue Wall’ shire constituencies.

The issue of new housing is a sensitive matter for Boris Johnson (seen jogging in London today) 

The Planning Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech earlier this month. Boris Johnson has vowed to build 300,000 homes a year by 2025.

But the plan has put the PM on a collision course with many of his backbenchers. And countryside campaigners have warned that the reforms – the biggest shake-up of the system for 70 years – would mean ‘open season for developers’ in rural areas.

At least 80 Tories are members of a WhatsApp group that previously united to defeat the Government’s botched plans for an algorithm to decide how many homes should be built in each area.

One said yesterday the group had ‘woken up’ again over the new proposals. The number is far more than would be needed to defeat the plans.

Two Tories openly said they were prepared to vote against it yesterday.

Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet on London’s border with Hertfordshire, told the BBC: ‘Potentially, I am prepared to defy the whip if I thought what was being brought forward was going to be damaging to the quality of life or the environment of my constituency.’ Asked if he would also be prepared to defy the whip, fellow London MP Bob Blackman said: ‘Very much so.’

Meanwhile, former cabinet minister Damian Green said: ‘If you want to spread wealth and prosperity you need to spread housing too.’

The MP for Ashford in Kent – the county known as ‘the Garden of England’ – added: ‘Everything I hear makes me worry that the Government is not going to do that. There will be more building in traditional Tory areas, without providing opportunities and jobs in the Red Wall.’

Roger Gale, Tory MP for North Thanet in Kent, said: ‘I’m not prepared to see the Garden of England turned into a building site.

‘As far as I’m concerned, this is a developers’ charter… I think Boris needs to be looking at the Blue Wall because he may find it crumbles.’

A Housing Ministry spokesman said: ‘We are enabling the delivery of new homes the country needs, taking decisive action to ensure our communities have beautiful places to live in that reflect the character of the area.’ 

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