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Truro and Falmouth MP joins call for lower housing target
4:50pm Wednesday 8th January 2014 in News
Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton has said she supports calls for a lower new housing target for Cornwall, with higher priority for "genuinely" affordable homes for local people.
Ms Newton spoke in Parliament this morning to support plans proposed by Conservative Cornwall councillors for a reduced housing target for Cornwall.
Cornwall Councillors have been considering a Local Plan for Cornwall, which currently proposes the construction of up to 47,500 new homes in the Duchy over the next twenty years.
The Conservative group on Cornwall Council have tabled an amendment to the plan proposing that this number be reduced to 33,000.
There has long been a crisis in housing in Cornwall, with supply falling short of demand, large amounts of housing sitting empty, a large amount of housing used as holiday lets, and the cost of homes making them out of reach for many of the county's people.
Mrs Newton took part in a Westminster Hall debate on planning reforms and local plans today, and used her speech to highlight that the 47,500 new homes figures was based on Cornwall Council’s previous record of delivering new houses.
Mrs Newton argued that despite this level of building Cornwall did not deliver enough genuinely affordable homes needed for local people.
Mrs Newton asked Planning Minister Nick Boles MP for an assurance that Cornwall Council could use more realistic and appropriate data to agree a housing target based on local needs, rather than seeking to replicate past building rates. In response Mr Boles confirmed that Cornwall Council could choose to take this course of action, providing it had the evidence to prove how Cornwall was going to meet its local housing needs.
Mrs Newton said: ‘‘I will continue to support my colleagues on Cornwall Council in arguing that the Cornwall housing target should be based on local need, rather than past building rates. If is vital that we protect our very special environment and two very important industries of tourism, farming, food and drinks.
"A much higher priority needs to be given on delivering homes that local people can afford to live in.’’
A "Local Plan" which has been the focus of protests at County Hall are based on recommendations from officers of 47,500 new dwellings in Cornwall up to 2031 with an alternative option for 42,500.
Cllr Steve Chamberlain a Conservative member of the planning advisory committee has tabled an amended figure of 33,000.
Cllr Chamberlain said the lower figure assumes that population growth in Cornwall continues at the same rate over the next 20 years as it has over the past ten years and is "a very large amount of growth", when the number of people moving to Cornwall is falling.
Adding a figure lower than 33,000 would be more difficult to justify to the Planning Inspectorate.
A transcript of Mrs Newton’s contribution to the debate, and Nick Boles’ response, can be found through http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/24948/sarah_newton/truro_and_falmouth.
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