Our housing correspondent, BARRATT HOLMES, on an awkward situation for the Nimbys of Purley
Tory MP Chris Philp’s loud and frequent complaints about what he continues to call “the Purley Skyscraper” (which is not tall enough to be a skyscraper) could be about to be silenced – by his own government.
Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a speech today in which she announced a shake-up of the National Planning Policy Framework and introduce measures to encourage a faster pace of building.
This includes a relaxation of regulations governing the height of buildings.
“It will be quite surprising how easy we want to make it for people who want to build upwards,” Sajid Javid, the housing secretary, said in an interview yesterday.
In advance of the speech, Sajid Javid, the housing secretary, warned councils that he will be “breathing down your neck every day and night” to ensure house-building targets are met.
An overhaul of planning laws will give councils, like Croydon, targets for how many homes they should build each year, taking into account local house prices, wages and the number of key workers such as nurses, teachers and police officers in the area. Higher targets will be set for areas with higher “unaffordability ratios”, Javid said in an interview with a Sunday newspaper.
If councils fail to deliver on the target they will be stripped of planning powers, and independent inspectors will take over.
“We have a housing crisis in this country,” Javid said. “We need a housing revolution. The new rules will no longer allow ‘Nimby’ councils that don’t really want to build the homes that their local community needs to fudge the numbers.
“We are going to be breathing down your neck day and night to make sure you are actually delivering on those numbers.
“At the moment there is nothing in the system that checks to see they are actually delivering.
“There’s no comeback or sanction and that is going to change.”
Javid said homes would not be built on Green Belt, but any area outside “naturally protected land” would be free for construction.
Where this gets all a bit uncomfortable for the Tories in Croydon, including the voluble Philp, is their constant Nimby-ism over any suggestion of home-building. Entire campaigns opposing house-building in Shirley have been orchestrated by Croydon Conservatives, while opposition has been whipped up by Philp, the MP for Croydon South, to plans to finally develop a long-derelict plot at Purley Cross – the “Purley Skyscraper”.
The development, on behalf of the Purley Baptist Church, has been delayed after it was referred to Whitehall by Philp and residents’ groups for a ministerial ruling. The minister to hand down the final decision is … Sajid Javid.
Philp, though, does not see a contradiction between his Prime Minister’s stated desire to build upwards to resolve the housing crisis, and his objections to the Purley scheme.
“The new policy is allowing building ‘up to the prevailing roofline’,” Philp told Inside Croydon. “The prevailing roofline in Purley is not 17 floors. It is three or four floors.”
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