Botley Home plans in a Pickle

Eric Pickles says councils can scrap housing targets

Campaigners in Botley opposed to the building of 6000 new homes may soon have cause to celebrate .

The new communities secretary, Eric Pickles, has written to all local authorities telling them the coalition government will be abolishing regional house building targets.

“The previous government gave a green light for the destruction of the Green Belt across the country and we are determined to stop it.”

“We’ve promised to use legislation to scrap top-down building targets that are eating up the Green Belt, but I’m not going to make communities wait any longer to start making decisions for themselves.

“That’s why I have written to all councils to let them know from today they can make planning decisions in the knowledge Regional Strategies will soon be history.”

The previous Labour government had announced a target of building an extra three million homes in England by 2020 to help deal with the growing demand for houses with the area north of Hedge End designated as a strategic development area (SDA).

However members of the Botley Parish Action Group (BPAG) banded together to tell the Government:

“Not in our backyard!’

BPAG, who have described the move as ‘Potentially a very significant step in the right direction’ will now be waiting to hear if Eastleigh Borough Council leader Keith House will stand by his declared opposition to the development plan by scrapping it.

Both Keith House and Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne have previously hinted that local housing demands could be met by further development of brownfield sites within the central Eastleigh area but on Wednesday the government will be announcing changes to planning laws which will remove obligations on developers in to provide high density housing as in the Park 21 estate.

The government will announce that the targets requiring developers to build at least 30 houses on every hectare of developed land will be abolished.

Government Minister Greg Clark is also expected to announce that gardens can no longer be classified as ‘brownfield’ sites and then developed for housing – a practice known as “garden grabbing”.

Not everyone is pleased with the proposed changes. Critics say removing targets on housing density will result in developers building larger, more expensive homes and fewer smaller, cheaper homes for key workers and poorer families.

The ‘planning resource’ website branded the scrapping of regional housing strategies as a ‘nimby’s charter’ warning:

“Without some kind of strategic plan, councils will be at the mercy of nimbyism, whether they are pro-development or want their communities preserved in aspic.

This is no prescription for the certainty and confidence that the country will need from the private sector to aid recovery. Planners and developers in the housing sector are staring down the barrel of a gun, but the consequences for the wider economy will be disastrous.

We can already see signs of councils dropping core strategies like hot cakes. They do so at their peril.”

There are currently 5,000 people on the housing list in Eastleigh.

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