Housing minister indicates that she will push through development despite local moratoriums

Yvette Cooper, the housing minister, has signalled an end to local bans on housebuilding in areas that have met their planning targets.

Cooper commented in a chat broadcast on the Number 10 website last week that councils that have imposed moratoriums should rethink their position.

She said: “Each council faces different circumstances and it’s not for me to second-guess the details of their decisions but I know there are still councils in many areas that are operating moratoriums when they need to start changing their approach.”

She was responding to a question from a person in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, who expressed concern that a moratorium there meant there would be no new housing until 2012.

The most wide-ranging freeze on housing has been in

north-west England, where curbs have been placed on housebuilding around Liverpool and Manchester to help prop up the property markets.

Where Cooper is getting involved, we’re seeing positive decisions

Gareth Capner

Similar thinking underpins the freeze in Stratford-upon-Avon, where it is part of a strategy to encourage regeneration in the West Midlands conurbation.

In other parts of the country, such as Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, planning applications have been vetoed where councils have already met the targets in their local plans.

Gareth Capner, senior partner at the planning consultancy Barton Willmore, said Cooper’s remarks had been reflected in a series of recent planning decisions made by the communities department.

He said Windsor and Maidenhead had abandoned its moratorium after losing a number of appeals from developers. “Where the secretary of state is getting involved, we’re seeing positive decisions, although there are still some poor decisions from the planning inspectorate.”

Robin Tetlow, director of the Tetlow King planning consultancy, said: “There’s a rationale for the moratoriums but there are some severe housing shortages in these districts.”

See www.building.co.uk/archive for more on development bans