“A cabinet minister faced a furious backlash yesterday after saying the Tories must build homes in the countryside – or they will hand power to Jeremy Corbyn.
Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said planning laws should be ripped up as she complained about the number of Nimbys in Britain.
The outspoken minister said ‘a lot more’ sites needed to be opened up. She also called for those living in cities to be allowed to add extra floors to their homes without needing permission. Miss Truss argued the house-building overhaul was needed to keep Mr Corbyn out of Downing Street at the next election.
Liz Truss argued the house-building overhaul was needed to keep Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) out of Downing Street at the next election
But Tory colleagues warned the party would be ‘run out of office’ if it went ahead with ‘catastrophic’ proposals that fail to protect rural Britain and the green belts around London and other major cities.
The row comes a day after campaigners warned the green belt is already being ‘gobbled up at an alarming rate’ to build thousands of homes.
A report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, published yesterday, showed plans for almost 460,000 homes have been pencilled in for green belt land since 2013 as councils lift planning protections, opening the way for developers.
Asked in an interview whether she would you be happy to ‘start paving over our green and pleasant land’, Miss Truss replied: ‘I do think we need to open up more land for building, a lot more. There are a lot Nimbys in Britain.’
Questioned on whether there are many ‘not in my backyard’ objectors in her own party, she said: ‘There are, but I think it is a dwindling number.
‘People recognise the choice is building on more greenfield sites and making sure there are enough homes for next generation or losing the election and ending up with Jeremy Corbyn, whose policy appears to be appropriating property.
Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said planning laws should be ripped up as she complained about the number of Nimbys in Britain
‘So I know which one I’d choose – it’s having more homes available on the open market for people of whatever generation to afford.’ The minister added: ‘I also think we need to make it easier to build up in cities. I quite like the Japanese system where essentially you can build up on top of your house without having to get extra planning permission. I think we need to be more liberal about these policies.’
Miss Truss, who was appointed second-in-command at the Treasury last June after previously serving as justice secretary and environment secretary, said in the interview with the Financial Times’ politics podcast that she would one day like to be the country’s first female chancellor. ‘Well, who would say no to that?’ she said.
But when asked if she would like to be prime minister, Miss Truss, who is MP for South West Norfolk, replied: ‘I’m not sure about that one.’
Tory former minister Crispin Blunt last night warned the party it would suffer an electoral ‘catastrophe’ if it does not protect the green belt. The MP for Reigate, who is co-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for London’s green belt, said Conservative local councillors already faced being ‘run out of office’ in areas where ministers had raised housebuilding targets.
‘Residents’ associations are going off their rocket,’ he said.
Mr Blunt said trying to meet demand in the South East was ‘sucking the best and brightest out of the North’. Hindering development in the South-East would encourage growith in the North, he added.
Tom Fyans of the CPRE said: ‘We agree that there is a severe lack of affordable homes available for people to buy and rent.
‘However, what Liz Truss fails to recognise is that, opening up the green belt will not solve this issue.
Tory former minister Crispin Blunt (pictured) last night warned the party it would suffer an electoral ‘catastrophe’ if it does not protect the green belt
‘Almost three quarters of the homes built on green belt land last year were unaffordable.’ He said the ‘perfect solution’ to ‘this barbaric assault on the green belt’ was to use brownfield land to its full capacity.
The CPRE’s report showed there are plans for almost 460,000 homes on green belt land. Green belt areas can be built on if councils grant planning permission directly or remove the land’s official status. Both methods have been used.
Only 70 houses or flats were built in the green belt in 2009/10 compared with 8,143 in 2017/18.
Miss Truss has become one of the most prominent advocates in the Cabinet for free market liberalism. Earlier this year, she attracted attention for a speech in which she appeared to ridicule the Prime Minister’s plan to ban plastic straws.”