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Chancellor Rachel Reeves announces new taskforce to accelerate ‘stalled housing’ at Northstowe

A new government taskforce will be set up to accelerate “stalled housing sites” including at Northstowe in Cambridgeshire, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said.

Rachel Reeves said the government is ripping up planning rules to build more homes and critical infrastructure, saying she is prepared for “short-term political pain to fix Britain’s foundations”.

Chancellor Rachel Reeves has promised a new focus on generating economic growth (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Chancellor Rachel Reeves has promised a new focus on generating economic growth (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The Chancellor said there will be major changes to speed up infrastructure projects and unlock private investment and that the government will make “tough” choices to fix the UK’s economy.

In a speech at the Treasury, she said: “The question is not whether we want growth, but how strong is our resolve?

“How prepared are we to make the hard choices and face down the vested interests?

“How willing, even, to risk short-term political pain to fix Britain’s foundations?”

Ms Reeves confirmed the national planning policy framework will be reformed, including restoring mandatory house building targets for local authorities as part of the drive to build 1.5 million homes over five years.

She said the “absurd” ban on new onshore wind farms in England has been scrapped and energy projects will be given priority in the planning system.

“Third, we will create a new taskforce to accelerate stalled housing sites in our country beginning with Liverpool Central Docks, Worcester Parkway, Northstowe and Langley Sutton Coldfield, representing more than 14,000 homes,” she said.

Northstowe is expected to be made up of 10,000 homes once completed, with more than 1,000 homes already built as part of the first phase of the development.

Ian Sollom, the newly-elected MP for the St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire constituency – which includes Northstowe – welcomed the announcement.

The Liberal Democrat MP said: “I welcome this commitment from government in supporting the creation of an attractive and high-quality town centre for Northstowe under an accelerated timescale.

“The history of the build-out of Northstowe has been marked by a failure to deliver the required infrastructure alongside the construction of the much-needed new homes.

“I have long been campaigning for the investment in GP surgeries and community facilities to be brought forward.

“I look forward to working closely with the new government and with South Cambridgeshire District Council to ensure that Northstowe becomes an amazing place for all its residents, current and future.”

Labour’s housebuilding targets will mean allowing building on some land currently designated as green belt.

The Chancellor said environmental concerns cannot be allowed to block all developments.

“We must acknowledge that trade-offs always exist. Any development may have environmental consequences, place pressure on services and rouse voices of local opposition, but we will not succumb to a status quo which responds to the existence of trade-offs by always saying ‘no’,” she said.

Additional reporting by Hannah Brown, Local Democracy Reporter.

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