Housebuilding in Coventry could double to 2,676 new homes-a-year with green belt land at greater threat under planned government reforms, a leading city councillor has warned.

Cllr David Welsh, cabinet member for communities and housing, has blasted the government’s proposed changes for planning as “unwanted and unnecessary”.

The ‘Changes to the Current Planning System’ consultation includes altering the way housing figures are calculated to increase the national target to 337,000 homes per year.

Coventry’s housing requirements would rise from 1,230 to 2,676 homes per year, according to the council based on figures from planning and development consultancy Lichfields.

That would dwarf the council’s Local Plan and replaces the previous calculation of 42,400 new homes by 3031, the authority said, which has been based on contested Office for National Statistics figures.



Labour’s David Welsh talking after he was elected as the councillor for St Michael’s (Labour hold)

The government has said the changes would boost housing supply but as the consultation comes to a close on Thursday, October 1, it has already led to a revolt from some Tory MPs, while Coventry’s housing chief has warned it would put pressure on the green belt and reduce the number of affordable housing.

Under the plans no provision of affordable housing would be needed if a housing development is less than 40 or 50 houses.

Cllr Welsh said: “Some people have criticised the figures in our existing Local Plan for building too many houses using government population projections, yet the same government is now proposing something that would more than double our yearly figure.

“Our policy over the years has been to build on brownfield sites first and the reality is that there are not that many of them left. If this new figure is forced upon us, it means our options are to look for denser housing developments, or look to release additional greenbelt –options we do not want to do.”

The change is being considered in conjunction with the ‘Planning for the Future’ white paper which could give “automatic permission” to some applications without consultation, which the government said will cut red-tape and build homes quicker.

Cllr Welsh added: “The white paper affects our planning controls, giving more power to developers and less of a say to residents in what happens in their own communities.

“In Coventry, we have a strong Local Plan in place – that was consulted extensively upon – which gives our council the ability to make sure new housing developments are right for our city and the people who live here.

“These proposed new changes are unwanted and unnecessary.”

The government has said current local plans provide for 187,000 homes per year across England which is both lower than their ambition for 300,000 new homes annually, and lower than the 241,000 homes built last year.

“The new standard method should ensure that all areas of the country are encouraged to build the homes their communities need,” the government said in consultation.

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