Boris Johnson faces Tory rebellion over radical plans to build more rural homes – as senior backbenchers blame the PM’s policy on a ‘mutant algorithm’
- Prime Minister has plans to boost house building in the Tory-supporting shires
- But, by contrast, he is insisting on less development in Labour-supporting cities
- Senior Tory backbenchers have warned that it could cost him at the next Election
Boris Johnson faces a mounting Tory revolt over radical plans to boost house building amid claims the ‘disastrous’ policy could spell doom for his party.
He is being warned that pushing for more new homes in the Tory-supporting shires while insisting on less development in Labour-supporting cities will cost his party dear at the next Election.
The protests from senior Tory backbenchers come as a leaked analysis of a proposed new national housing formula reveals Tory-run local authorities outside London overall should deliver more than 30,600 extra houses every year.
In contrast, Labour-run town halls would be asked to deliver 1,500 fewer homes each year.
Boris Johnson faces a mounting Tory revolt over radical plans to boost house building amid claims the ‘disastrous’ policy could spell doom for his party
Last night, senior Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin signalled he would not vote for the plans – warning that imposing more homes on England’s green spaces amounted to a ‘circle of doom for rural areas in the Home Counties’.
He was joined by Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen, who said ‘concreting over’ rural areas was a ‘timebomb’ for the Tories which would go off in the approach to the next General Election.
Former Minister Caroline Nokes also urged Ministers to rethink the proposals.
But one Cabinet Minister told The Mail on Sunday that the Government would not back down, insisting the need to provide more homes was fundamental to Mr Johnson’s vision.
Last month, the Prime Minister unveiled a ‘once-in-a-generation’ planning reform to speed up the delivery of new homes across England by restricting the power of local councils to oppose new development.
However, the plans were accompanied by a new formula of recalculating where housing developments would go that critics have branded a ‘mutant algorithm’ cousin of the methodology which led to this summer’s exams results chaos.
More than 30 Tory MPs have now joined a rebel WhatsApp group to co-ordinate opposition to the plans.
The MoS can reveal that outside London, the draft formula would mean asking Tory-run councils to provide more homes every year compared to Labour authorities.
Last night, senior Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin (pictured) signalled he would not vote for the plans – warning that imposing more homes on England’s green spaces amounted to a ‘circle of doom for rural areas in the Home Counties’
Essex MP Sir Bernard claimed that as the new algorithm was based on population growth, it would simply keep adding more houses to local authorities that were already building them.
That would create ‘a circle of doom for rural areas in the Home Counties’, with more development in rural areas and potentially less on brownfield sites in urban areas, he said.
Sir Bernard added: ‘I am not inclined to vote for a relaxation of the planning laws to make things easier for the mega-housebuilders when the real problem is a failure of local authority and powers to ensure that the right houses are built in the right places.’
He also warned that even if the Government pressed ahead with the current plans, ‘it will generate such an adverse reaction that in the end it will be stopped in its tracks’.
Mr Bridgen, MP for North-West Leicestershire, said: ‘I cannot countenance a formula based on some mutant algorithm that seems set on concreting over our remaining green space and rural areas, but bizarrely spares inner-city and urban brownfield areas.’
Romsey MP Caroline Nokes cast doubt on plans to reduce local councils’ power over housing allocation, saying: ‘The A-levels fiasco has rammed home the message that machine learning and algorithms are a poor substitute for practical experience.
‘The algorithm deployed to generate housing numbers appears to be a triumph of mathematics over common sense.’
Housing Ministry sources insisted last night that any new local allocation figures were currently only estimates as final decisions were yet to be made.
But a Ministry spokesman said: ‘The current formula for local housing need is inconsistent with our aim to deliver 300,000 homes by the mid-2020s, and so we are committed to reviewing it at this year’s Budget.’
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