It is essential that local plans start with an honest assessment of housing need in the area. As we set out in our housing White Paper, we will introduce a standardised approach to assessing housing need to ensure that that is the case.
The methodology used by Leeds City Council has brought about an excessive 70,000 housing target, which has threatened swathes of green-belt and greenfield sites in my constituency. If the alternative method proves my community’s suspicion that the target is excessive, will that override the current target and help to save these important green lungs in my constituency?
The methodology will reveal the real level of housing need in Leeds. Local authorities across the country choose to build more homes than are needed because they have an ambition to grow. There is a legitimate debate to be had about that, but my hon. Friend’s constituents should have a clear understanding of what the relevant need is. I should add that the housing White Paper makes it clear that green-belt land should be released only in exceptional circumstances when all other options for meeting housing need have been explored.
Pendle has lots of brownfield sites, and many homes that have been granted planning permission have not yet been built because of the depressed property market, leading to low demand. How can we ensure that low demand in areas such as Pendle is better reflected in housing targets?
That is exactly the purpose of the new methodology that we plan to introduce. The level of housing need for which we plan should reflect the real market demand for housing in an area.