Portsmouth City Council told to build more new homes after missing government's target

Portsmouth’s housing target has been increased by the government after the city fell short of the minimum level over the last three years.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 4:55 am
An aerial view of Southsea Picture: Solent Sky Services / Oliver Collins

Figures for last year showed the number of new homes built was about 80 per cent of what was required.

A Portsmouth City Council report says this is ‘largely’ due to a reduction in the amount of student accommodation being finished.

Local authorities that fall below 85 per cent of this three-year average have a 20 per cent buffer added to the number of homes they have to show can be built over the next five years.

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The council has repeatedly called for more 'realistic' targets and a motion due to be put forward by its leader, councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, at its full council meeting next week will 'reiterate' its opposition to them.

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‘The decision on housing need in Portsmouth should be made by local people in Portsmouth and not imposed by government since local people understand the opportunities, constraints and complexities of the city environment,’ he will say.

'The target of 17,000 is too many. Portsmouth is an island with virtually no unprotected land to expand into. Our roads, hospital, schools, GPs and other services just can't cope with this amount of additional housing.'

If approved, his motion will required him to write to the government requesting permission for the council to set its own, lower target.

Despite this, a report considered by the council's cabinet on Tuesday said the council accepts it is legally required

'The city council recognises that the requirements under the Housing Delivery Test are binding upon it and, irrespective of the targets set by government, remains committed to working to deliver the housingthat the people of Portsmouth need,' it said.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson has also written to housing minister Christopher Pincher who, in a response to Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, agreed to send a delegation to the city to discuss housing numbers.

He has asked that he, the cabinet member for housing, councillor Hugh Mason, and Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt also meet with him.

'We are all agreed that the level of housing that is being asked for by the government is too much and will lead to land currently used for jobs, for green spaces and for environmentally sensitive land, to be built on,' he wrote.

He also confirmed council officers were in discussion with civil servants to request a formal view from the government on whether the land reclamation to facilitate Tipner West would be suitable.

'We will be seeking this opinion to establish whether, in the secretary of state's view, the need to provide housing and employment land should be considered imperative reasons of overriding public interest, in light of the negative assessment of the implications of the project on the protected sites within the Solent,' his letter added.