MP Theresa Villiers has formally responded to the Government’s planning consultation and explained she is strongly against the proposals that could double new housing numbers in Barnet.
Theresa used a submission from the Federation of Residents Associations in Barnet (FORAB) to help form her response and said: “I hope all the points made by this influential group in my constituency will be taken into account determining the Government's response to the consultation.”
Theresa explained the controversial New Standard Method algorithm would reduce housing targets in the Midlands and the North and give the biggest increases to London and the South. This would undermine the professed goal of the Government to level up and spread investment and economic opportunities more widely.
“The new methodology is entirely blind to local policy objectives, supply constraints, or environmental impact,” she said. “It pressures authorities to meet the calculated housing need forced on them by the New Standard Method algorithm but does not look at factors that might constrain the ability to deliver those targets.”
She said constraining factors in Barnet include a democratic mandate to prevent dense high rise development in areas where it was completely inappropriate; and unsustainable pressure on infrastructure and services.
Developers were also deliberately withholding sites to maximize their gain, she said. Between 2010 and 2017, 80% of residential applications were granted but nearly half remain unbuilt and there are currently up to 1m permissions not yet completed.
“Rather than rewarding developer behaviour with new housing targets and liberalisation of the planning system, we need to find a way to ensure that more of the planning permissions which are granted are built,” her response said.
She also told the consultation that a huge amount of home building has taken place in Barnet - more than in most other London boroughs. Barnet has been delivering its target of 2,349 new homes a year and has a plan to maintain similar levels of home-building over the next decade.
However, FORAB have pointed out that the new algorithm would give the borough of Barnet an annual target of 5744 homes per year, more than double current expectations, and that this could only be delivered by building ever larger numbers of small flats that local people do not want.
“And as current planned numbers will soak up all the remaining identified sites, building these properties could only be achieved by a major incursion into the green belt land or by large scale demolition of the existing stock of family houses,” Theresa added.
“The reality that we face in the suburbs if the New Standard Method is applied, is building tower blocks, building on green spaces, or demolishing family homes on a major scale to make way for denser development. These are all completely unacceptable."
“I would therefore urge the Government to think again about this proposal and give local councils far more freedom to determine their own housing targets, based on local needs and local circumstances.”
The consultation can be read here: