The Conservative Party has told Tory councils and MPs to delay any ‘major’ developments until it comes into power, according to reports at the weekend
The Observer claims it has seen a leaked letter sent by shadow communities secretary Caroline Spelman (pictured above) warning authorities not to press ahead with large commercial and housing schemes.
It is understood a new Conservative administration would want to bring in its own local government and housing bill – a move that would, in effect, tear up Labour’s regional development targets.
According to the newspaper, the letter goes on to say that the new legislation would ‘put the brakes on elements of regional spatial strategies that [local authorities] find undesirable’.
It is feared the proposals could lead to a planning hiatus and have been criticised by the Home Builders Federation for potentially ‘exacerbating the [housing] supply crisis we already face’.
Only last week, the RIBA’s new president Ruth Reed said she was concerned about the Tories ‘removing regional policy because of the need for joined-up thinking on housing, infrastructure and the regional economies’.
Meanwhile John Healey, the current housing minister, said: ‘The Tories are getting ahead of themselves… taking the election for granted [and] this seems deliberately designed to slam the brakes on building, yet they have no plausible policy to secure the investment and new homes the country needs.
‘Crude threats and uncertainty are the last thing builders need now as they battle to come out of recession.’
However, Grant Shapps, the Conservative shadow housing minister, defended the letter. Speaking to The Observer, Shapps argued that a large number of Labour’s regional development strategies had been challenged in the courts and were therefore delaying the building of new homes.
He went on to say that councils should not waste time fighting these ‘if they thought a Conservative victory at the next election was likely’.