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28/07/2014

Government reforms reason behind greater support for housebuilding, says Lewis

Words: Sam Waddicor

New housing and planning minister, Brandon Lewis, has suggested the coalition's planning reforms are the reason for more people now being in favour of new housing developments.

In an article for the Telegraph’s website Mr Lewis suggested Nimbyism was a thing of the past and that the government’s radical new planning strategy was the reason, as people now had more say in where new housing was built.

The most recent British Social Attitudes survey shows that the number of people supporting the building of houses in their area rose from 28 per cent to 47 per cent in the three years from 2010 to 2013. The number of people opposed to new homes fell from 46 per cent to 31 per cent over the same period.

Lewis described the situation before the coalition government took power as “a housing market in disarray, where the lenders wouldn’t lend, the builders couldn’t build and the buyers couldn’t buy.“ Paying tribute to his predecessors, Lewis wrote: “It’s a job that has been brilliantly executed over the last four years by my predecessors Greg Clark and Nick Boles. Regional Strategies have been scrapped, thousands of pages of Government “guidance” have been streamlined, and local communities have been put back in control.”

Lewis also explained why the housing and planning jobs have been merged again. “Those reforms are now complete. That’s why the Prime Minister has decided to reunite the housing and planning portfolios, and I am delighted to have been appointed the new Minister of State for both.”

“The results are clear to see. Despite challenging economic conditions, 445,000 homes have been built since July 2010, housebuilding is at its highest level since 2007, and mortgage approvals are on the rise, with mortgage borrowing in June 24% higher than the same month last year,” Lewis added.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, commented: “The new minister suggests Nimbyism is dead but we know lots of communities are very concerned about poorly-sited housing on their doorsteps.

“It is very good news if more people are in favour of house building, but I think it is a bit hopeful to suggest that this is down to the Government’s planning reforms.”

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