Lunchtime news Friday 24 August

Reaction to yesterday’s independent report into housebuilding in the south east, which recommended building 32,000 new homes annually in the area over the next two decades, has been strong. Much is being made of the report’s recommendation that leaving the green belt untouched ‘cannot be consistent with government policy’. Tory shadow planning minister Jacqui Lait called it a ‘green light to green belt desctruction’ and said that ‘government inspectors were planning to let rip with the concrete mixer’. The Campaign to Protect Rural England said it had ‘major concerns’ about building on green belt land. However Stewert Baseley from the Home Builders Federation, warned that the figures did not go far enough and more people than ever will be unable to buy a home. ‘The proposed 32,000 homes will not go anywhere near meeting the housing need in the region…this is less than required to meet government household growth projections. There is a clear need for 40,000 new homes per year to meet [the] housing shortfall,’ said Baseley.

The government responded to the criticism saying it never specified a regional target, and ‘it is both wrong and misleading to pretend otherwise’.

In other news, the National Consumer Council (NCC) called on greater statutory protection for homebuyers. In reponse to an Office of Fair Trading study into new builds, the NCC said that consumer laws are so outdated that homebuyers have more protection when buying a kettle than when purchasing a new home. Delays moving in, poor after sales service, and poor quality finishing all add to the problems homeowners face and have lead to the NCC to call for something similar to the Sale of Goods Act 1979 which protects consumers when things go wrong.