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Housebuilding hit as regional targets are axed

Plans for around 85,000 homes across England have been scrapped after the government axed regional housebuilding targets.

According to the National Housing Federation, many local councils have slashed plans for new homes after the government advised them to ignore targets contained in Regional Spatial Strategies before scrapping them earlier this month.

The NHF’s research, carried out by Tetlow King, says that plans for 59,750 homes in the South-west have been scrapped, 20,540 in the East of England, and 1,860 homes in the South-east, as a result of the dropped targets.

The report cites councils including North Hertfordshire Council, Stevenage Borough Council, Bristol City Council and Torbay as among local authorities which have cut planned housing numbers.

The NHF said that the scrapping of targets could see the number of homes built annually fall below 100,000. In 2009/10,123,000 homes were built, the lowest number for almost 90 years.

In May, communities secretary Eric Pickles wrote to local authorities telling them that the government was committed to abolishing the regional housing targets, and that councils should take this into account when determining planning applications.

The NHF report found that Mr Pickles’s letter had a “very significant impact” on reducing local authority housebuilding targets resulting in plans to build 84,150homes being dropped.

Earlier this month, Mr Pickles formally revoked the regional targets saying that “they were a terrible, expensive, time-consuming way to impose house building”.
The Federation warned that housebuilding could slump in many places because the government has failed to replace the regional plans with any transitional arrangements.
NHF chief executive David Orr said it was disappointing that so many local authorities had decided to revise down the number of homes planned for their areas. 

He said: “Local authorities need to recognise that just because regional targets have gone, housing need has not.”