Tory Rebels Sink Housebuilding Targets In Blow To Rishi Sunak

A rebellion of more than 40 Tory MPs has reportedly delayed Rishi Sunak’s plan for a housebuilding target.

Where does Simon Jupp stand on this with his hands tied by PPS shackles?

Watch this space on “Soviet Style” planning targets – Owl

Graeme Demianyk 

The prime minister was due to face the first major test of his leadership next Monday when MPs were set to vote on the flagship levelling up bill.

But Conservative backbenchers – including former cabinet ministers – have signed an amendment to the bill that would ban councils from taking housing targets into account when deciding on planning applications.

The government on Tuesday night appeared to pull the vote, blaming the congested parliamentary timetable, according to the Telegraph and i newspapers.

But Labour accused Sunak of “running scared of your own backbenchers”.

The rebels had been warned they will “make the recession worse” by scrapping the housebuilding targets.

The amendment is one of several proposed by former environment secretary Theresa Villiers that would bring wholesale changes to the planning system, including making it easier for councils to ban building on greenfield land and providing more incentives to develop brownfield sites.

Villiers’ proposals have been criticised by some, including 2019 Tory manifesto co-author Robert Colville, who said they would “enshrine ‘nimbyism’ as the governing principle of British society”.

Colvile earlier tweeted: “Up to 46 signatories now on the Destroy the Planning System and Make the Recession Worse Amendment 2022.”

But her supporters have insisted that they do not want to stop housebuilding, only give communities more say over where homes are built.

Support for the amendment scrapping housing targets has increased over the past week, rising from nine MPs on November 15 to at least 46 on Tuesday, including prominent figures such as former party leader Iain Duncan Smith and former cabinet ministers John Redwood, Chris Grayling, Damian Green, Wendy Morton and Priti Patel.

The Telegraph put the number of signatories at 50 on Tuesday night.

This would be enough to leave the government reliant on Labour votes to defeat the amendment.

Other amendments proposed by Villiers would see tighter restrictions on homes being converted into holiday lets, more financial penalties for failing to build once planning permission was granted, and allowing councils to take a developer’s character into account when deciding on a planning application.

Downing Street said Sunak was still committed to the government’s target of building 300,000 homes a year.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “We want to work constructively to ensure we build more of the homes in the right places. That’s something that the department and the secretary of state are very focused on.

He added that the housing secretary, Michael Gove, would continue to discuss how the 300,000-home target was delivered.

Labour’s shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy said: “This is a complete shambles. The government cannot govern, the levelling up agenda is collapsing and the housing market is broken. Pulling flagship legislation because you’re running scared of your own backbenchers is no way to govern.

“There is a case for reviewing how housing targets are calculated and how they can be challenged when disputed, but it is completely irresponsible to propose scrapping them without a viable alternative in the middle of a housing crisis.”