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Lichfield MP questions Government’s house-building targets

Michael Fabricant MP

Michael Fabricant MP

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant has challenged the Government in the House of Commons on their house building targets.

The Lichfield district area has been earmarked for 8,000 new homes – a proposal which has seen a variety of community action groups formed to fight the plans.

And Mr Fabricant has questioned whether the balance between development and the environment has been given enough consideration.

The Lichfield MP said:

“The targets are neither achievable nor desirable. Of course we need more housing and we need affordable housing too for young families.  Of course I am aware of that desperate need.  But 8,000 new homes in Lichfield District is too many and will destroy the very essence of why people want to live in our beautiful district in the first place.  The balance between housing and the environment is fragile and concreting over South Staffordshire is most certainly not the answer.”

Mr Fabricant today challenged Housing Minister Margaret Beckett in the House of Commons. He questioned assurances that new homes would only be built on brownfield sites and asked whether the Government had recognised the delicate balance between the need for new homes and the need to protect the environmental landscape. 

The Housing Minister replied:

“The reason that people should believe what we say about brownfield sites is that the Government have delivered – in fact, more than delivered – on our targets for brownfield sites. We have had many discussions in the House about the proposals for eco-towns, and it is correct to say that some of those proposals involved greenfield development. They involve a variety of types of development, and we shall return to that issue later in the year.”

But Mr Fabricant continued to press the Minister on the house-building targets which have been set out.

He later continued:

“The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says that while it recognises “the need for more homes we do not believe the aspiration for 240,000 new homes a year is either achievable or desirable”. I agree. How are we going to balance 240,000 new homes, 8,000 of which will be in Lichfield district, against the need to maintain the quality of life in rural areas? I do not think that that is a conundrum that can be solved.”

But Mrs Beckett hit back, suggesting the CPRE view was “profoundly misconceived”. She added:

“It is all very well to say that it is not going to be easy – I accept that completely – to maintain the balance with quality of life. However, if we ignore the number of households who need to be housed, and assume that because the CPRE thinks so, it is not desirable to build them homes, that will certainly damage people’s quality of life, especially among the many thousands of families who will be without homes.”

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