Boris Johnson backs down on 300,000 housebuilding target

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has played down the 2019 Tory manifesto pledge to build 300,000 new homes per year.

Johnson was questioned on whether he could guarantee this target being met by Darren McCaffrey, political editor of GB News.

The PM responded: “I cannot give you a cast-iron guarantee that we will get to a number in a particular year, but what I can point you to the is record of delivery under Conservative government.

“Clearly you have got to make sure that you are not building everywhere on precious greenbelt land, and that you are taking care of the natural world.”

He added that the country is “sensitive to development that isn’t in the right place, and that is perfectly reasonable”.

The UK wasn’t on course to meet the 300,000 target even prior to the covid-19 pandemic, which caused a slowdown in housebuilding.

In the 2019-2020 financial year before the coronavirus lockdown, the government oversaw the construction of 220,600 homes, 6,190 more than the year before.

Last month housing secretary Michael Gave admitted the UK was unlikely to hit the target in the latest financial year.

He said: “We’re going to do everything we can in order to ensure that more of the right homes are built in the right way in the right places.”

While it seems the Tory pledge to up housebuilding to 300,000 per year by 2025 is in tatters, Anne Henshaw, chair of countryside charity CPRE Wiltshire came to his defense.

She said “[I’m] happy to hear that the Prime Minister cannot give a cast-iron guarantee to build 300,000 homes a year.

“Housing strategy isn’t about meeting an arbitrary number which would just see our green spaces turned into identikit executive homes, it’s about working with local communities to meet housing needs in a way which young families in rural communities can afford and without destroying green spaces.”

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