COUNCILS across the Portsmouth area could face building an extra 5,809 homes to ease the country’s housing crisis.
Under proposals in a controversial white paper, authorities in Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and Havant have all been tasked with adding more homes on to the thousands already planned.
In response to the paper – which is currently out for consultation – councils have expressed frustration with the figures, claiming ‘we are full up’.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) says the figures would help achieve an aim of building 266,000 homes per year, but that they are advisory and should be used as a ‘starting point’ for councils.
Its new formula allocates extra homes for when average house prices are greater than the average area income.
Fareham Borough Council says the ‘continual changing of the goalposts’ by the government’ is ‘undermining’ the authority’s decision-making.
This will mean that all the sites we have sought to keep free from development could be opened up.Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council
The authority would have to build an extra 2,075 homes in the borough up to 2036 under the government’s new formula, taking the total for Fareham to 13,375.
It objects to the formula.
Councillor Sean Woodward, the council’s leader, said: ‘This will mean that all the sites we have sought to keep free from development could be opened up.
‘For years, council officers have been working on finding sites for the local plan, but now the government has shoved the figures up for the sake of it.’
Portsmouth City Council is also developing its local plan, with the aim of building 17,020 homes by 2034 (including homes constructed since 2011).
Under the proposed formula, this number would spike to 19,025 with an increase of 2,185 homes.
A previous target of 700 homes per year was set, but the government estimates this could be raised to 835.
The council has previously identified a number of sites for homes in the city, notably in the centre and at Tipner.
Councillor Luke Stubbs, deputy leader of the city council, said: ‘Looking at the target of 700 per year, it would be tough to see if we can make that.
‘I think any increase in the targets and we would be looking to make a case that there are not enough sites for these homes, but we have to be seen to be trying to meet that target.’
Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, insisted the figures were not housing targets but a marker as to how much would be needed to meet national targets.
Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, said that while the city was in ‘desperate need’ of more social and affordable homes, the housing targets for Portsmouth were not being matched by funding for infrastructure.
Gosport has historically had a problem fitting in new homes given its location as a peninsula.
Under its current adopted local plan, the council targets building 170 homes per year, but the formula says it should be 238 – meaning an increase of 1,224 on the existing 3,060 allocated.
Councillor Mark Hook, leader of the borough council, said: ‘We understand the country’s growing need for housing, but Gosport really struggles with job density.
‘For us, it is more important that we create more jobs than building more homes.’
Whilst Havant would see an increase on the formula, it is modest in comparison to its neighbouring authorities at an extra 325 homes up to 2036.
Acting leader Councillor Anthony Briggs said ‘We are full up when it comes to homes.
‘For us, the bottom line is that we would require extensive infrastructure before we take on any more homes.’