Clark pledges to boost home building across the country

    Greg Clark

    Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark has outlined government priorities aimed at boosting housing development saying he would ‘pull out all the stops’ to keep the country building.

    Speaking in front of more than 40 members of the Kent Developers Group, and representatives of county and district councils on October 22, Mr Clark focused on the need to build more residential and commercial property.

    In his capacity as communities secretary, Mr Clark focused on the extension of permitted development rights, releasing government-owned land for development and the role of housing associations.

    He also discussed the government’s move to build 200,000 starter homes by the end of the parliament and create a register of brownfield land.

    After the event, which was co-hosted by DHA Planning at its offices in Maidstone, Mr Clark said: “We’re determined to pull out all the stops to keep the country building, with a clear ambition to deliver one million new homes by 2020.

    “So I was pleased to meet with the Kent Developers Group and hear how they are working to deliver the homes and business premises that communities across Kent want and need.”

    Nick Fenton, chairman of Kent Developers Group, said they still face challenges.

    He added: “The meeting was an excellent opportunity for us to highlight how recent changes to government policy are impacting on the work we do.”

    The Times reported last week that a government planning inspector, who backed proposals to build 62 houses on greenfield land in Hawkhurst, said Tunbridge Wells Borough Council needs to more than double the number of new homes planned for the area in the next 15 years.

    Marie Jones, who stood for the Greens in Tunbridge Wells at this year’s general election, said: “I think housing in general has been largely under invested in for a long time, but new housing needs to be social housing.

    “We do not require more buy to let properties which ultimately give people who already own houses an opportunity to make even more money.

    “The new houses should also be made as carbon-neutral as possible and should be developed on brownfield sites first.”

    Ukip candidate Colin Nicholson believes the countryside is already ‘in jeopardy’ and any new housing was going to end up putting too much pressure on services, adding that unbridled development of the countryside is not the answer.

    He said: “With the population growing, partly because of open-door immigration, we are going to have to house more people.

    “But this government has been relaxing planning rules and opening the green belt for development because it’s cheaper to build on.

    “But this benefits developers, not the local population. The countryside is shrinking fast and when it’s gone it’s gone.”