Summary: Letter from housing minister Grant Shapps in response to an article in the Guardian (25 August 2010) about the future of house building.
Peter Hetherington (Opinion, 25 August) fails to see the bigger picture about what we’re doing to get this country building again.
His article seems to suggest that by freeing councils from top-down regional targets we’ve brought house-building immediately to a standstill. In fact, it was under the previous government that the number of new homes being started slumped to the lowest levels since 1924. A resounding endorsement of the bloated Regional Spatial Strategies? I think not. The reality is that dictating how many homes each council builds and by when is not only ineffective, but it can divide and cause resentment among communities.
We believe that local people should get the chance to decide about the future of their towns and villages and drive forward the building of new and affordable homes where they are needed. Reviving a house-building market that is on its knees takes much more than pieces of paper from central government telling town halls what and when to build. That’s why we’ve pledged to give councils substantial extra funding if they build new homes through our New Homes Bonus. This will mean that they get significant financial benefits from building the homes their communities really need.
And, at the same time, we’re giving struggling rural villages the chance to secure their long-term future and build new homes that locals can actually afford to live in through the Community Right to Build scheme.
Everyone knows we need to build more homes, but top-down targets and regional bureaucracy haven’t worked - we need more carrots not sticks.
Grant Shapps MP, Housing Minister