The Government has defended its plan to scrap strict house-building targets in England as they “antagonised communities” and generated “thousands of objections”.
Ministers, on Thursday 23rd June, responded to a Select Committee report published in March 2011 claiming the abolition of regional house-building plans in England put the economic recovery at risk.
The previous Labour government sanctioned Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) that called for hundreds of thousands of homes to be built including the 37,000 now being promoted by the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) that has been adopted by the local authorities that make up the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP).
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) dismissed suggestions from the cross party committee of MP’s that a “vacuum at the heart of the English planning system” was emerging. In its formal written response the Government said that the strategies were prepared by “unelected bodies” (just like the GNDP) were “highly controversial” and generated “thousands of objections”.
“This resulted in long delays and meant that regional strategies did not provide certainty for communities or investors,” it added. The plans “antagonised communities” and led to house building rates falling to their lowest peacetime levels since 1942, it is claimed.
The Government said, “Rather than unaccountable and remote bodies, the Government believes that it is local authorities and communities that should decide the level and distribution of growth in their areas”. The Governments £1 billion New Homes Bonus, which began in April 2011, replaced the RSS. Whitehall promises to match council tax raised from new homes for six years – money that can be used to cut council tax or invest in front line services to overcome local opposition.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said:
“The evidence is clear – top down targets simply haven’t worked.”
So there we have it yet GNDP insist on ploughing ahead to build thousands of houses that were targeted by the previous Government and now cancelled by the current Government! Why?
Well we believe that the local authorities of the GNDP have used the prospect of the New Homes Bonus to guarantee additional income from central government, which combined with the additional council tax from the new homes, will enable them to uphold the promise they made last year, before the District Council elections in May this year, not to raise Council Taxes for the next two years.
The result of this is that they have all been re-elected however we in the community have to endure 37,000 additional new homes with all of the added pressures on the infrastructure so that the councils can stick to their promise. Had the feeling you’ve been conned!