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HOUSING CRISIS: Government to dump controversial new increases today

Wednesday 16th December 2020

HOUSING secretary Robert Jenrick will today dump a controversial algorithm which would have massively increased housebuilding in Maidstone.
Mr Jenrick announced England’s 20 biggest cities will instead take a bigger share of new homes under revised plans drawn up by the minister after a backlash from Conservative MPs, locally led by Helen Grant MP.
For Maidstone, it would have meant an annual housing requirement which jumped from 880 in 2017 a year to nearly 1,600 which local councillors said was nigh on impossible to achieve.
Earlier this year, each local authority in England was to be given a revised target for the number of new homes to be built and told to designate land for preservation or development. 
Mr Jenrick also wants to simplify the planning system, by reducing local government scrutiny and public intervention.
But in recent weeks, it became clear to the minister that building large numbers of houses in areas where there was insufficient infrastructure and poor local services was unsustainable.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said the proposals, which were announced in August, would “seriously jeapordise” the government’s intention to level up economic activity in disadvantaged areas of the country.
The volte-face came as the government said its updated housing formula to enable the delivery of 300,000 homes a year by mid-2020s would prioritise brownfield sites and urban areas.

What caused fury was a Government-comissioned report that showed in the north of England there was a planned reduction in house-building of up to 60% in some parts.
Despite the U-turn, it appears Maidstone may still have to accept the burden of around 1,200 new homes per year.

Mr Jenrick said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated and magnified patterns that already existed, creating a generational opportunity for the repurposing of offices and retail as housing and for urban renewal.”

Independent borough councillor and fierce critic of Maidstone Borough Council's massive housing scheme, Cllr eddie Powell, praised the Government for "listening" to the people' concerns.

He added: "At long last, the Government is listening to the people and not local councils by sending out a common sense message about housing. It's our deprived cities and northern areas which need revitalisation and not the south east's farmers' fields."