The government is plotting to clamp down on “NIMBYism” in the more affluent areas of the country, in its latest stratagem to build more homes.
Ahead of new rules designed to force councils to increase their housing targets (due to be published in the next three weeks), Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has said that there needs to be “a much more frank, open discussion with local residents and communities” about housebuilding – noting that areas “where housing is particularly unaffordable” will have to accept that more homes need to be built nearby.
The government has also proposed a renewed drive to build more A-roads and bypasses to ease traffic congestion in regional towns and villages. These invariably involve upsetting a lot of local property owners on and around new routes.
There are various reasons that more affluent areas of the country have tended to be less built-upon than others, ranging from the most cynical – that it’s all a plot to protect Tory-voting heartlands – to the more practical – that these communities tend to have more finely-tuned campaigning groups – to the bigger picture; that there’s a correlation between higher property values and higher proportions of more-protected local environment (i.e. AONBs or listed buildings).
“Nothing is more corrosive to trust than the idea that some areas are being treated better than others,” Javid told council leaders at the Local Government Association’s annual conference. “Where housing is particularly unaffordable, local leaders need to take a long, hard, honest look to see if they are planning for the right number of homes.”
The new guidance for councils’ housing targets is likely to up the ante on what new-builds should be delivered and where, with assessments every five years to update Local Plans.