Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, has been accused of blocking a housebuilding initiative by Bradford Council as a ‘favour’ to a local Tory MP, who complained about the plan.
In a scathing letter, Shadow Secretary of State for Housing John Healey said the Government’s decision to overrule the local authority ‘smacks of a political ‘mate’s favour’.’
He called on Sajid Javid to ‘account for this decision,’ adding that it was particularly surprising given recent comments from the Communities Secretary on the ‘importance of building more homes and local democracy.’
John wrote: ‘This week, the Housing Minister in your Department wrote to Bradford Council directing them to halt the adoption of their development plan which would build more homes for the people of Bradford. Despite all stages of consultation and approval – from local people, council and Planning Inspector – being completed, this action stops the plan’s adoption in its tracks.
‘According to the Housing Minister this decision was taken merely because a fellow Conservative MP wrote in complaint. There is no attempt by the Minister to defend the substance of the complaint. Without justification, his decision to intervene smacks of a political ‘mate’s favour’.
‘Given this lack of justification for your Department stopping a plan which has been nine years in the making, and involved extensive consultation with local people, I am writing to ask you to account for this decision.
‘Your decision seems particularly extraordinary when on the very same day as the letter was sent, you spoke at some length in the second reading debate on the Neighbourhood Planning Bill about both the importance of building more homes and of local democracy. Your Minister’s letter has overridden both without proper justification.
‘I raise this objection with you because this heavy-handed intervention using powers under the new Housing and Planning Act has also been used to halt Birmingham’s development plan.’