Natalie is co-founder and chairman of Million Homes, Million Lives, and is a non-executive director of a leading building society. Follow Natalie on Twitter.
Another day, another demand for a free for all in planning approval for new homes. A free-for-all in planning is not the answer to increasing the numbers of homes being built. Since John Prescott was Deputy Prime Minister and in charge of such things there has been a relentless call on planning authorities to approve, approve, approve, and the rules have been steadily relaxed. But approve, approve, approve did not result in build, build, build. Over 280,000 fewer homes were built under the Labour government between 1998 and 2010 than in the previous 13 years of the Conservative government. More homes overall, and more affordable homes, have been built in each of 2011 and 2012 than in 2010. More council housing has been built in the last 2 years than over the entire 13 years of the Labour government.
Low housebuilding has been a longstanding issue in this country, so to blame NIMBYs is a bit lazy. Of course large housebuilders want clean green fields to build 2,000-10,000 homes if they can. But that may not what our country needs or wants in all places or at any cost. Planning officers, councillors and those communities who want sensible planned housing and infrastructure which preserves quality of life and opportunity for all in their community are not the ones holding back housing numbers.