Theresa Villiers says Housing rebellion is about restoring local democracy

The former environment secretary and rebel leader Theresa Villiers said new homes must be built in the right places

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A rebellion by some 50 MPs against the Government on housing targets is about restoring local democracy, according to former environment secretary Theresa Villiers.

Ms Villiers, who introduced a Commons amendment which has delayed the new housing bill, told GB News: “It's about restoring local decision-making over planning decisions.

The former environment secretary and rebel leader Theresa Villiers said new homes must be built in the right places
The former environment secretary and rebel leader Theresa Villiers said new homes must be built in the right places

“That's been at the heart of the planning system for many years, that local democratically elected representatives should have the major say on what gets built.

“But since 2018, these mandatory top-down targets for house building have made it harder and harder for local councils to make their decisions, to turn down development which is viewed as inappropriate or damaging to the environment.

“Because again, and again, they're told, ‘well, you have to say yes to this development, even if it's totally wrong for this area, because if you don't say yes to this development, you don't meet your targets’.

"I think this is damaging the environment and damaging the quality of life of my constituents and many other members of the public around the country.”

In an interview with Phillip Davies and Esther McVey on GB News, she added: “The amendment on targets is part of a wider package, which looks at how we improve the supply of new homes and secures the right homes in the right places.

“For example, there is a long-standing problem where developers apply for permission to build and then don't build and then just come back and ask for more planning permissions elsewhere.

"And actually, there's also a really successful precedent over the last few years with the introduction of neighbourhood plans, which relate to a particular local area and empower local communities.

In an interview with Phillip Davies and Esther McVey on GB News Theresa Villiers said the Housing rebellion is about restoring local democracy
In an interview with Phillip Davies and Esther McVey on GB News Theresa Villiers said the Housing rebellion is about restoring local democracy

“They demonstrate that if you give local communities responsibility and agency over house building and what gets built where they actually step up, they do make sure that they identify sites.

“So, it's not a binary choice about whether you build or whether you don't build. It's about building in a sustainable way of making sure you build the right homes and the right places.”

She added: “These targets are meaning that local councils have to accept, or they're forced by the Planning Inspectorate to accept housing, which just isn't supported by infrastructure, the sort that you're speaking about, and particularly, roads and parking is an issue but also public service provision, as well.

“And again, part of the package of proposals that I brought forward in parliament is to get developers paying up front to fund some of that infrastructure, to mitigate the impact of increased development on local areas.

“This is another way in which we're trying to put forward a positive agenda to ensure that we build the homes we need, but in a way, which doesn't override local communities and decision-making.”