The government has urged planning authorities in south-west England to press ahead with plans to build thousands more homes, despite delays to the regional plan and opposition from the Tory party

Thoss Shearer, deputy regional director of regional strategies, housing and planning, has written to councils, saying that “planning authorities should proceed with the preparation of core strategies”.

The regional plan proposes that 30,000 homes be built in the region each year, compared with 20,000 at present, and has been delayed after more than 35,000 people wrote to protest at the proposals.

Bob Neill, shadow local government and planning minister, said: “It’s wholly inappropriate for the government to try to force through these plans to rip up the South-west’s green belt. Labour ministers should get their tanks off the lawns of the West Country.”