Curse of the mutant algorithm – Housebuilding in Cotswolds and Cumbria will soar under reforms

…..“Conservative backbenchers are increasingly mutinous over the reforms, with one rebel calling it symptomatic of a “wider lack of engagement” that No 10 is not allowing MPs to vote on it.

Next Thursday dozens of rebels will be able to speak during a debate on the algorithm. About 50 Conservative MPs are part of a Whatsapp group that opposes the housing targets.”….

Do they include “jumping Jupp Flash”? – His voting record and choice as the “safe” option to act a Bojo’s minder ensuring an “unencumbered” visit on Tuesday to Exeter (where the Prime Minister failed to make any announcement about funding in the Great South West), suggest not. – Owl

George Grylls | George Greenwood www.thetimes.co.uk 

Housebuilding will more than double in the Cotswolds and almost triple in Cumbria under the government’s planning reforms, analysis has revealed.

In August ministers published details of an algorithm — described by one Tory MP as a “mutant” — that calculates which parts of the country are earmarked for development as part of a government drive to build 300,000 homes a year.

The countryside charity CPRE found that the plans would lead to vast construction projects in rural areas, whereas cities and towns outside London would escape the boom.

In Cumbria, home to the Lake District, housebuilding would increase by 178 per cent, and in the Cotswolds there would be 148 per cent more development. Rural parts of Hampshire, Leicestershire and Gloucestershire also face huge rises in construction, and areas such as Richmondshire in North Yorkshire would be hit by a tenfold increase. Richmondshire includes part of the Yorkshire Dales.

However, cities outside London would be asked to build fewer houses. Development is set to shrink by 37 per cent in Greater Manchester and 15 per cent in Birmingham.

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said that “governing by algorithm” did not work. He added: “Our analysis has shown the government’s far-reaching and untested changes to local planning could lead to the worst of all possible worlds — gobbling up our countryside without delivering the affordable homes our rural communities are crying out for.”

Conservative backbenchers are increasingly mutinous over the reforms, with one rebel calling it symptomatic of a “wider lack of engagement” that No 10 is not allowing MPs to vote on it.

Next Thursday dozens of rebels will be able to speak during a debate on the algorithm. About 50 Conservative MPs are part of a Whatsapp group that opposes the housing targets.

Last month Andrew Griffith, the MP for Arundel & South Downs, called it a “mutant algorithm cooked up in the wet market of Whitehall”. This week Harriett Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire, said the government was “concreting down rather than levelling up”.

Boris Johnson said the government was giving young people the chance of home ownership “for the first time in a generation” and that the construction would avoid “desecrating our beautiful countryside”.

Analysis by The Times found that seats in the traditional Tory shires faced a huge rise in development. The Cotswolds constituency would have an extra 739 homes a year. Arundel & South Downs would receive 4,510 homes over ten years — the equivalent of a small town. London would be hit hardest, with a fivefold rise in Sir Keir Starmer’s seat of Holborn & St Pancras.

Outside the capital housebuilding in urban areas would go into reverse, with a reduction of 260 homes a year in Manchester Central.

John Fuller, chairman of the District Councils’ Network, said that councillors were “enraged” by the targets. “We’ve got to have a formula — but, please God, not this one,” he said.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that ministers would “reflect on the feedback received” from a public consultation, which closed yesterday.

A spokesperson said: “Local housing need proposals provide a guide for councils on how many homes may be needed in their area. Councils will still need to consider local circumstances to decide how many homes should be delivered.”

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