A new housing estate under construction in Ashford, Kent.
Tory MPs have been warned they will “make the recession worse” by spearheading moves to scrap housebuilding targets.
In what would be a major rebellion against Rishi Sunak, nearly 50 Conservative backbenchers have backed an amendment to the Levelling Up And Regeneration Bill going through the Commons.
MPs will vote on it on Wednesday. If passed, it would mean local councils no longer had to follow housebuilding targets set by the government.
Among those backing the move are former Tory cabinet ministers Theresa Villiers, Priti Patel, Esther McVey and Damian Green.
Robert Colvile, who wrote the Tories’ 2019 election manifesto, launched an outspoken attack on the MPs, who also include former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith.
He tweeted: “Up to 46 signatories now on the Destroy the Planning System and Make the Recession Worse Amendment 2022.”
Up to 46 signatories now on the Destroy the Planning System and Make the Recession Worse Amendment 2022 pic.twitter.com/eJXDTWyNeq
— Robert Colvile (@rcolvile) November 22, 2022
Writing in the Sunday Times, Colvile said: “The housing industry is already reeling from recession and interest rate rises.
“Already some are suggesting that the number of houses being built will fall by more than half next year. The Villiers plan would make the fall that much steeper, and any recovery far harder.
“This may not matter to those who already own. Indeed, they may welcome the disappearance of the diggers. But it matters a very great deal to their children and grandchildren.”
Simon Clarke, who was sacked by Rishi Sunak as levelling up secretary when he became prime minister, said: “There is no question that this amendment would be very wrong.”
There is no question that this amendment would be very wrong. I understand totally how inappropriate development has poisoned the debate on new homes in constituencies like Chipping Barnet, but I do not believe the abandonment of all housing targets is the right response. https://t.co/7hEMqxsQl9
— Simon Clarke MP (@SimonClarkeMP) November 22, 2022
He added: “But we also need to recognise the fundamental inter-generational unfairness we will be worsening and perpetuating if we wreck what are already too low levels of housebuilding in this country.
“Economically and socially it would be disastrous. Politically it would be insane.”
Downing Street said Sunak was still committed to the government’s target of building 300,000 homes a year.
The prime minister’s spokesperson said: “We want to work constructively to ensure we build more of the homes in the right places. That’s something that the department and the secretary of state are very focused on.”