Housing minister Brandon Lewis says target is a million new homes by 2020

'A lot of people would argue that it’s not enough'

Housing minister Brandon Lewis has broken ranks by setting out an ambitious target to build one million new homes before the end of the current Parliament.

Although the Government is under pressure to build more homes, it has resisted setting targets.

However, in a BBC documentary, Mr Lewis will say that he believed “success” would mean building one million new homes by the end of the current Parliament.

Hitting that target would mean immediately ramping up building to at least 200,000 new homes per year – a level of house-building not seen in England since 1989. In the 2014-15 financial year, 124,520 new homes were completed in England.

The Conservatives have previously shied away from specific targets, in contrast to Labour, which pledged 200,000 annually and the Liberal Democrats’ promise of 300,000.

It is understood the Government’s official position is still not to set official targets.

The Government has only promised to deliver 200,000 starter homes (discount properties for first-time buyers) and 275,000 affordable homes during this Parliament.

Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, which has previously called on the Government to set a national house-building target, said: “Matching the ambition with successful delivery would be a great achievement.”

However, Professor Tony Crook, emeritus professor of town and regional planning at the University of Sheffield and one of the UK’s leading housing academics, told The Independent: “It would certainly be a significant target, but a lot of people would argue it’s not enough.”

He added that private sector builders would only be able to deliver 150,000 a year by themselves, and said the Government must do more to support building by other sectors if it is to meet the target.

The ‘Inside Out’ documentary will be shown 21 September 2015 on BBC 1 at 7.30pm

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