May 15th 2021
There is a false premise that by sacrificing high grade farmland to housing we shall somehow create low-cost homes for the young and re-build a crumbling “blue wall” of Tory-voting aspirant home owners for tomorrow.
Of course we must generate, for our children and our grandchildren, the opportunity to get a foot onto the housing ladder but “Boris the Builder” and “JCB Jenrick” will not achieve that by turning the Garden of England, or the Home Counties or East Anglia into building sites at the expense of the land that we need to grow crops and rear livestock. And the proposals at present on offer make a mockery of the Government`s much-vaunted `green credentials`.
There are a million unused planning consents for houses waiting to be built and brownfield sites available for housing construction and empty inner-city commercial properties that can be tastefully converted into new homes before we need to touch another blade of green grass for development.
There are imaginative ways to create accommodation for first-time buyers and in the past those methods have been deployed by my Party to make starter-homes affordable but imagination does not seem to be fashionable at present. Smothering rural Southern England in cheap-to-develop expensive-to-buy three, four and five-bedroomed estate-homes with no funding available to provide the supporting road, school and healthcare infrastructure is not going to prove attractive to young and environmentally-conscious voters.
The Planning Bill announced in the Queen`s Speech offers the opportunity to get this right. Or catastrophically wrong.