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Conservative MP: 'Cornwall is building 1,000 homes a year too many'

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Conservative MP: 'Cornwall is building 1,000 homes a year too many'

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Local Government

Conservative MP: 'Cornwall is building 1,000 homes a year too many' Conservative MP: 'Cornwall is building 1,000 homes a year too many'

A Conservative MP has called for a reduced housing target for Cornwall and says the county is already building 1,000 homes each year that are surplus to requirements.

Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton (pictured) used a parliamentary debate to support plans proposed by Conservative councillors in the south west county to reduce the number of new homes to be built over the next 20 years from 47,500 to 33,000.

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on planning reforms, Mrs Newton said the higher figure was based on Cornwall Council’s previous record of delivering new homes. Mrs Newton argued that, despite this historically high level of overall building, Cornwall has not delivered 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.

Sarah Newton said: "It 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.

She added: "Based on the criteria used to determine local need, my Cornwall councillor colleagues believe Cornwall has been delivering 1,000 more homes a year than needed. This over-delivery will continue if the 42,250 plus figure is forced upon Cornwall.

"Cornwall has built on average 2,482 new homes each year over the past 11 years. However in the last 12 months we have seen a significant slow down in immigration into Cornwall. This is not surprising as the university growth is almost complete and the economy is rebalancing not only to support inward bound tourism but to encourage local growth, drawing on local skill resources, in the creative industries, highly skilled marine engineering and renewables as well as farming, food and drink manufacturing."

In response, planning minister Nick Boles, said: "The first issue is housing projections. What is the role of figures from the Office for National Statistics in supporting housing projections? The fundamental situation is that, just as we expect local authorities to make plans to meet their needs for schools and for social care, we expect in the national planning policy framework that local authorities will make plans to meet their housing needs.

"Those plans have to be evidence-based. Of course, we cannot entirely reject ONS population projections, because the ONS is our national statistics body and those projections are the best that we have, although I entirely understand why they are often wrong and flawed, as all projections necessarily are.

"What I have said, however, does not mean that those ONS projections are the last word. It is absolutely open to any authority— Cornwall council will certainly have this opportunity—to look at the actual figures achieved in the past, relate them back to the projections that were in place then and then say why it thinks that projections are not the last word and that different numbers have an evidence base.

"It is absolutely open to authorities to do that, but their numbers must be based on evidence; they cannot be based on assertion alone. Authorities must use evidence and that evidence will be challenged in an examination by developers and others, so it needs to be pretty robust."

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