The Prime Minister’s decision to ditch compulsory house-building targets for local areas has been welcomed by Teignbridge councillors, although it has come too late for some.

This change came about after 60 Conservative MPs threatened to vote against Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s flagship Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

The U-turn on house-building saw Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, agree to change his Bill to make it clear that centrally-dictated targets are merely ‘advisory’.

They become ‘a starting point, a guide that is not mandatory’.

The new rules will mean councils will be allowed to build fewer homes than Whitehall believes are needed if they can show that hitting the targets would significantly change the character of an area.  

Mr Gove has pledged to make it clear that more homes will be built in urban areas.

Cllr Alan Connett, Leader of Teignbridge Council, says: ‘I very much welcome the Government U-turn which now means housing targets are ‘advisory’.

‘In light of the announcement, I believe Teignbridge should postpone the council meeting on December 15 regarding potential housing sites.

‘The council needs to review what the Government is saying, including the detail behind the headlines and consider what it means for the district.

‘The Government has required councils to meet imposed housing targets and provide at least a five year supply of land for housing.

‘Postponing the council meeting will give councillors and our planning officers time to fully evaluate the Government’s new position.

‘We also need to consider how genuine local housing needs are met in Teignbridge where, for example, we have around 1,100 applicants on our register of housing need in light of the Government change.’

Cllr Richard Daws, of the South Devon Alliance, was elected to the district council alongside fellow Newton Says No councillors on a ticket to oppose wholescale housebuilding on the outskirts of Newton Abbot. He said the arguments against the NA3 development had been vindicated.

He said: ‘Housing Minister Michael Gove made a concession this week to Tory MPs to make house building targets non-binding ‘if they can show that hitting the targets would significantly change the character of an area’.

‘This is exactly the argument Abbotskerswell Parish Council, the Wolborough Residents Association, NSN and the six thousand objectors had been putting forward against NA3 articulately since 2012.

‘The environmental crime of NA3, building 1,200 houses on rolling fields of Wolborough adjacent to a SSSI, the European protected South Hams SAC and a blue flag nature reserve, will go down in local history as one of the worst decisions of a generation.

‘The saga, which is still likely to have many twists and turns, will be the defining legacy of Teignbridge District Council.

‘The sad fact is that the arguments against NA3 have this week been, albeit belatedly, accepted by the Housing Minister.

‘It is a travesty for the district that the previous Tory Council and the current Lib Dems have been lapdogs to national developer led housing policy, failing to put forward any strong opposition that would have put the hugely controversial NA3 in a very different position after this week’s government U turn.’