Home builders fear scrapped housing plans could cause construction hiatus

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has warned that there could be a hiatus in housebuilding after South Oxfordshire council moved to scrap housing plans in line with new government advice.

The HBF has demanded clear guidance on how handing over housing decisions to local authorities will not mean fewer homes are built.

South Oxfordshire District Council has cancelled meetings about its “core strategy” for housing after a letter to local authority planning chiefs from Eric Pickles, the new secretary of state for communities, said that the government planned to rapidly transfer housing and planning powers to councils.

The council said it had cancelled a meeting about the core strategy scheduled for today and taken it off the agenda in an upcoming council cabinet discussion.

The HBF said that the decision to give local authorities power over housing decisions had left the industry with a “vacuum in guidance”.

Stewart Baseley, chief executive of the HBF, said: “South Oxfordshire’s announcement demonstrates the urgent need for clarity on housing planning policy.

“The government says it is committed to delivering more homes, but without urgent guidance, this aspiration will not be achieved. Scrapping the existing system without a replacement is a recipe for disaster.”

Ann Ducker, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “I am delighted that the new government is fulfilling its promise to review the planning system so quickly. I have long argued that decisions about housing numbers are best made at a local level, and at long last it looks as if we will get the opportunity to do this.

“Given the strong feelings of residents over some of the proposals in the core strategy, I see no value in having a potentially highly charged meeting to debate proposals that are unlikely to stand the test of time,” she said.