May wants new homes – but not in her own back yard

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Christo­pher Hope CHIEF PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

THERESA MAY suc­cess­fully fought off plans to build new homes on a green­field site in her con­stituency weeks be­fore her gov­ern­ment an­nounced plans for a huge in­crease in house build­ing in the Home Coun­ties.

The Prime Min­is­ter backed the Save Pound-field Cam­paign to stop de­vel­op­ers build­ing dozens of new homes in Cookham, on the river Thames in Berk­shire. Berke­ley Homes, the house­builder, for­mally with­drew the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion with­out any ex­pla­na­tion just over a fort­night ago.

Con­ser­va­tive MPS are al­ready up in arms at plans, un­veiled on Thurs­day, to force com­mu­ni­ties in some of the most de­sir­able parts of Eng­land to ac­cept up to 40 per cent more homes to deal with the hous­ing cri­sis.

Anal­y­sis of the Gov­ern­ment’s plans show sev­eral Cab­i­net min­is­ters’ con­stituen­cies in the South East of Eng­land hav­ing to ac­cept the max­i­mum 40 per cent in­creases in hous­ing num­bers.

Pound­field, in Mrs May’s Maiden­head con­stituency, has been the sub­ject of plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions for hous­ing de­vel­op­ment for over 50 years.

Mrs May pub­licly backed the cam­paign against the lat­est at­tempt to de­velop the site when the Save Pound­field cam­paign launched in April last year.

She also spoke out against the de­vel­op­ment in Au­gust last year, just weeks af­ter be­com­ing Prime Min­is­ter, telling her lo­cal news­pa­per: “I want to as­sure lo­cal res­i­dents that I will con­tinue to cam­paign on the lo­cal is­sues that mat­ter in Cookham and Bisham, such as the Save Pound­field cam­paign.”

Mrs May is un­der­stood to be sup­port­ive of an al­ter­na­tive de­vel­op­ment which would ac­com­mo­date more homes nearby – and which is not part of the Green Belt. A No 10 source said: “The Prime Min­is­ter has been very clear that we need to in­crease the sup­ply of hous­ing in or­der to give more peo­ple the chance to own their own home – and our plans to do so pre­serve the Green Belt.”

Un­der the con­tro­ver­sial plans an­nounced by Sa­jid Javid, the Com­mu­ni­ties Sec­re­tary, in Par­lia­ment on Thurs­day, the num­ber of homes which have to be built will in­crease from 250,000 a year to 266,000 an­nu­ally from April next year.

Most will be built in the South East of Eng­land, as min­is­ters said ar­eas where the av­er­age home costs more than four times av­er­age salaries would be tar­geted.

Anal­y­sis by the Cam­paign to Pro­tect Ru­ral Eng­land seen by The Daily Tele­graph shows that nearly two thirds of Cab­i­net min­is­ters will have to ac­cept more new homes in their con­stituen­cies. Three min­is­ters – James Bro­ken­shire (Old Bex­ley and Sid­cup), Jus­tine Green­ing (Put­ney) and David Lid­ing­ton (Ayles­bury) – will have to ac­cept the max­i­mum 40 per cent up­lift in new homes.

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