Campaign group urges Banbury’s MP to back amendment to scrap housing targets


A former cabinet minister has proposed making five-year land supply figures advisory rather than mandatory

A campaign group battling green field developments in the villages around Banbury is urging Banbury’s MP to support an amendment to the law which could see mandatory house building targets scrapped.

Currently councils have what is called a five-year land supply number – the number of new homes that must be built within five years.   If it can’t demonstrate having achieved the required number local planning decisions can be overruled by the Planning Inspector.   This has led to a number of local developments being allowed, despite local opposition.

The amendment to the law has been proposed by the former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers who has proposed scrapping the mandatory local housing targets and making them advisory only.   The proposal has the backing of 46 MPs and Victoria Prentis is being urged to join them.

Members of the Keep Hanwell Village Rural Action Group have written to Mrs Prentis urging her to “support to her constituents” by voting for the amendment. The group is campaigning to stop further building happening in the remaining fields between Banbury and Hanwell.

Chris Brant, Chair of Keep Hanwell Village Rural Action Group, said: “Keep Hanwell Village Rural Action Group supports the amendment put forward by Theresa Villiers MP. We strongly oppose the five year housing land supply which is an arbitrary national target that tilts the balance in favour of developers.

“As it stands local councils are not allowed to make objective assessments of proposed sites to reflect public opinion and infrastructure constraints when this figure is not met. We feel planning applications made outside the local plan process are opportunistic and reflective of this warped policy.

“Action Group committee members have written individually to Victoria Prentis MP and hope that she will lend her support to her constituents by voting for the amendment, alongside other high profile members of the Government.”

Banbury FM contacted Mrs Prentis and asked whether she would be supporting the amendment.

She said: “While Cherwell has long been one of the most successful housebuilding districts in the country, I have always felt that we must approach local development in a considerate and sustainable manner. The growth of our towns must be supported, but only where there is sufficient infrastructure and where it will not have a detrimental impact on surrounding communities.

“Cherwell District Council are currently conducting their 2040 Local Plan Review. This process is designed to update our local planning policies and address Cherwell’s development needs up to 2040. I understand that the proposed plan will be going to public consultation again soon, which will give residents the opportunity to comment on the proposals for their area. I will also be responding to this consultation to emphasise the need for the right development in the right locations.

“My ministerial colleagues in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities are currently taking the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill through Parliament. The Bill encourages sustainable development with the right infrastructure. Communities will be given a louder voice over local planning which I know my constituents will welcome. I will continue to follow its progress closely.”

It has been reported that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pulled the vote on the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, including the proposed amendments, which had been scheduled for next Monday, following the scale of rebellion by Tory MPs.

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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