The Prime Minster has demanded that we “build, build, build” our way out of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.
He echoes a call of mine, and of my Liberal Democrat colleagues, that investing in homes, schools, hospitals and infrastructure must be done properly. But he ignores that local government should be playing a leading role in delivering this much-needed investment in our communities.
What totally depressed me was his promise of “the most radical reforms of our planning system since the end of the Second World War”. Not again, please!
“The Government conveniently forgets the thousands of planning applications sitting there without a brick being laid”
When will the government wake up to the fact that councils aren’t the problem with getting homes built, nor is the planning system?
How many times do we have to say that councils approve nine in 10 planning applications? The Government conveniently forgets the thousands of planning applications sitting there without a brick being laid, the hundreds of thousands of homes that lay unbuilt.
We need powers to force developers to build these out. Don’t demonise us and point the finger again at local government, blaming us. We don’t need rhetoric – we need partnership.
More than 13,500 affordable homes have been ‘lost’ over the past four years as a result of permitted development changes already in place, meaning less investment in the schools, doctors’ surgeries, roads and facilities these new homes will need.
We were promised beautiful, high-quality homes, improved building safety, environmentally friendly housing – and we will be getting the ‘slums of the future’. I do despair.