200,000 new homes needed in Devon and Cornwall
An investigation by the Western Morning News in March revealed that Westcountry councils want 200,000 new homes built across the region in the next two decades.
But today's report by the National Housing federation shows that the number of houses being built is lagging further behind the need, as identified by lengthening waiting lists for social housing.
When the Coalition Government came to power it scrapped the regional Spatial Strategy and left housing targets to individual councils.
Proposals being prepared by 16 councils will replace unpopular and arbitrary regional targets, which forced councils to build more houses than they believed were necessary.
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Cornwall Council is considering a target of between 38,000 and 57,000 over the next 20 years and Plymouth City Council 17,250, while Torbay Council has proposed a 500-homes-a-year building rate. In the rest of Devon and Somerset, smaller district councils are in charge of housing – Taunton Deane is eyeing 17,000 new homes by 2028 and West Devon just 4,500.
But tensions have simmered over a number of building schemes, from 100 houses and a Waitrose on Duchy of Cornwall land on the fringes of Truro, to the 5,500-home Sherford "new town" close to Plymouth.
Today, Cornwall Council's newly-formed cabinet will decide what figure to adopt as a target for homes to be built over the next 20 years.
A policy committee at the authority last month recommended a lower figure of 38,000, from the three proposed, to be agreed.
Mark Kaczmarek, the council's housing spokesman, will today urge fellow members of the executive to rubber stamp at least 48,000.
"That is the bare minimum we can go on without it being thrown back by the Government with a higher figure," he added.
"We need to build more houses to keep prices down – we must think strategically and not resort to silo mentality."
However, a new pressure group, Our Cornwall, is campaigning against the over-development of the Duchy and wants to see the lower figure.
The group predicts "massive estates" on greenfield sites and "soulless car-dependent suburbs" if development moves too fast.
The situation across the country has prompted the Government to intervene with help for targeted schemes to get construction moving.
In Devon, the new town at Cranbrook, near Exeter, has been offered a £20million loan to accelerate growth by building a school and town centre ahead of schedule.
The development could now see 6,500 new homes, including affordable properties, by its completion in 2030.