Stewart Jackson announces plans at Thames Gateway Forum to allow councils to revisit local plans

Councils will be able to scrap housing targets imposed on them by regional government under a Conservative government, the shadow MP with responsibility for the Thames Gateway has said.

Speaking at the London Thames Gateway Forum, Stewart Jackson said local authorities would be allowed to revisit their local plans if they had been “forced” into drawing them up using regional spatial strategies that they opposed.

The move is part of a Tory drive to abolish regional government by getting rid of regional spatial strategies, which determine housing numbers, and regional assemblies.

Jackson also told the conference that the party would reconsider housing targets in terms of numbers, sizes and tenure mix.

He said the party would give incentives to councils to promote economic development and housing as well as scrapping housing density targets. These plans will form part of a housing green paper being written by shadow housing minister Grant Shapps.

Employers would also be able to offset part of their carbon reduction target by improving the energy efficiency of their employees' homes, he added.

People buying houses through low-cost home ownership schemes would also be able to buy smaller shares in their properties, enabling more people to purchase.

He reiterated that the party would carry out a “forensic audit” of Thames Gateway funding, with elected councilors playing a “pivotal role” in the process.

He criticised a “lack of strategic planning, leadership and local planning and consultation” in the Gateway.