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Government proposals will ‘add to the housing crisis’
Plans to revive the economy by easing restrictions for homes and businesses could see less affordable housing built in Bradford.
As part of the Government’s growth strategy, obligations for including affordable housing in new developments could be waived where they are holding projects back, David Cameron has announced.
Some MPs fear the move will lead to a bigger housing crisis in Bradford, with 20,000 people already looking for social housing or a more suitable property.
Just 115 new starts were made across Bradford between April 2011 and March this year – down from 210 the previous comparable 12 months.
Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe said: “In Bradford we desperately need social housing and that housing needs to be in the right places so they can get to school and work. We do not need houses built in the leafy areas. The fact there could be less social housing is very worrying.”
Bradford East David Ward said: “This growth strategy is nonsense. We have 400,000 homes across the country where planning permission is granted that is not the issue. I am not impressed by this announcement. It is not supply or red tape issues, but about demand and confidence in the economy.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insists the change would be more than compensated for by extra Government investment to support the building of more affordable homes. Treasury funding of £300 million will help provide up to 15,000 such properties and bring 5,000 empty homes back into use, Downing Street said.
But Shipley MP Philip Davies argued that relaxing rules on housing in city centres will help Bradford.
“I am broadly in favour of what they are doing. The growth in Bradford is based in the city centre, where we need housing. Making it easier is a good thing.”
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins added: “I have long been a strong advocate of affordable housing and will be pressing ministers to ensure that the temporary relaxation of the rules will not impact adversely on those in greatest housing need.”
As part of the plan, homeowners will be allowed to extend their properties by up to 8m without gaining full permission, and rules on shops and offices expanding will be loosened. Another 16,500 first-time buyers are also to receive help under an extension of a scheme where people without a deposit are given an equity loan of up to 20 per cent of the purchase price under the scheme.