Planning magazine reports that Labour would reintroduce regional housing targets. The Regional Spatial Strategies were a spectacular bureaucratic failure representing an affront to local democracy yet also proving ineffective in getting houses built – house building fell to the lowest level since 1924.
But at a Royal Institute of British Architects fringe meeting at the Labour Conference the Shadow Planning Minister Jack Dromey said the Government's decision to scrap the targets was "crazy".
"You cannot sensibly address meeting our housing needs, infrastructure, transport and protecting our natural environment other than if you have a regional and sub-regional approach.
"So there is no contradiction between a localist agenda that does believe in maximising local say through neighbourhood plans with saying that you’ve got to have that strategic approach, including the kind of imperatives that were inherent in the regional spatial strategy framework".
Asked if this would include regional housebuilding targets, Dromey replied "yes".
The contradiction between a localist agenda and forcing councils to approve unwanted developments to hit some housing target strikes me as stark. When the targets include a demand for a percentage of "affordable housing" that means it is not viable for anything much to get built at all they are self defeating.
What do the Labour councils think? Do they want to told what building they must and mustn't allow? If there are any genuine localists in the Labour Party they will speak out against Dromey.