Housebuilding algorithm will lead to more developments in Tory areas, Johnson warned

Linda J. Dodson

A new algorithm that will decide where homes are built is unfair and will kill off the appeal of town and city living, the Prime Minister has been warned. 

Under new reforms of planning law, decisions about where housebuilding will take place will be taken out of the hands of local authorities. Instead ministers in Westminster will set an annual target – this year 337,000 – and allocate that among local councils, who must then find the land to meet their target. 

The algorithm that makes these new home allocations will mean more homes built in Conservative constituencies in the countryside and suburbs and fewer in town and city centres, according to Lichfields, a planning consultancy.

Its analysis found that in Leicester the number of new homes would drop by 32pc while across the rest of Leicestershire it would rise by 51pc. Similarly in Nottinghamshire the rate of housebuilding would jump by 39pc, while in Nottingham it would fall by 22pc. The majority of new homes will be built around greater London and the South East. 

Neil O’Brien, the Tory MP for Harborough in Leicestershire, told The Times: “Lots of our large cities have brownfield land and capacity to take more housing and it seems strange when planning to ‘level up’ to be levelling down their housing targets to rates even lower than they have been delivering.”

He added that it would be difficult to explain to Conservative voters why they should accept more housing in their areas while Labour-run cities were allowed to stagnate rather than regenerate. 

New homes can benefit local areas, particularly overlooked inner-city neighbourhoods, as housebuilders often invest money building schools, community centres and sports facilities. New-builds also tend to be more energy efficient and can reduce city centre pollution. 

A Government spokesman ministry said the suggestions were inaccurate and that decisions for which areas would receive the biggest allocations would be made locally. “Our proposals will increase the supply of land available for new homes where it is needed,” she said. 

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