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More Homes: Lib Dems want call-in powers slashed

The Liberal Democrats have resolved to further reform the planning system in order to meet their goal of building 300,000 new homes each year

The party’s plans include restricting the planning inspectorate’s and secretary of state’s powers to call in schemes and to improve design quality by keeping some parcels of land away from the ‘stanglehold’ of major housebuilders.

The proposals have been drawn up by Mid Dorset and North Poole MP, Annette Brooke.

Brooke said that for more than two decades the government had failed to meet the need for new homes, and that this new package of measures was aimed at empowering local communities to come up with solutions to housing need.

The party has suggested that the relationship between communities, local government, the planning inspectorate and the secretary of state need to be redefined to avoid unnecessary interventions in local planning decisions, and are calling for a consultation on restricting the call-in powers of the secretary of state and into limiting the planning inspectorate’s powers.

The motion, which will be put foreard at the Liberal Democrat’s Conference next month, says that poor standards of residential design and performance have been ‘fostered by the stranglehold of the large housebuilders.’

Their solution would be to reserve land for use by smaller developers and self-builders, promoting greater competition in the housebuilding market.

The Liberal Democrats are also calling for a reform of the 1981 New Towns Act to make it easier to create large settlements, such as garden cities.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has continually backed the use of garden cities to meet housing need, and back in January called upon the government to create a new wave of the developments across the south of England.

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