“Nimby” councils that don’t build enough homes will be stripped of the right to decide where new houses are placed in their area under plans to be launched by Theresa May on Monday.
Housing secretary Sajid Javid warned local authorities he would be “breathing down our neck every day and night” to ensure home-building targets were met.”
An overhaul of planning laws will give councils targets for how many homes they should build each year, taking into account local house prices, wages and the number of key workers such as nurses, teachers and police officers in the area. Higher targets will be set for areas with higher “unaffordability ratios”, Javid told the Sunday Times.
If councils fail to deliver on the target they will be stripped of planning powers, and independent inspectors will take over.
The prime minister has made housing a key domestic priority as more young people struggle to get on the property ladder.
Javid told the newspaper: “We have a housing crisis in this country. We need a housing revolution. The new rules will no longer allow ‘nimby’ councils that don’t really want to build the homes that their local community needs to fudge the numbers.
“We are going to be breathing down your neck day and night to make sure you are actually delivering on those numbers.”
The housing secretary added: “At the moment there is nothing in the system that checks to see they are actually delivering. There’s no comeback or sanction and that is going to change.”
Javid said homes would not be built on green belt but any area outside “naturally protected land” would be free for construction.
He also revealed plans to build new towns between Oxford and Cambridge. “Along that corridor there’s an opportunity to build at least four or five garden towns and villages with thousands of homes,” he said.
And he said rules would be relaxed for homeowners who wanted to add storeys to their houses. He said he didn’t want “London to end up like Hong Kong’ but called for more “mansion blocks, the kind you might see in Kensington and Chelsea”. “It will be quite surprising how easy we want to make it for people who want to build upwards,” Javid said.
In response, John Healey, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for Housing, said: “This year-old policy shows again that ministers have no proper plan to fix the housing crisis. Eight years of failure on housing is the fault of Whitehall, not town halls.
“Since 2010, home ownership has fallen to a 30-year low, rough sleeping has more than doubled, and the number of new homes being built still hasn’t recovered to pre-recession levels.
“In the week he’s surrendered £800m of unspent housing funds to the Treasury, more buck-passing from Sajid Javid isn’t going to cut it. It’s time the Tories changed course, and backed Labour’s long-term plan to build the homes the country needs.”