Rishi Sunak hits back at Labour’s vow to build more homes – saying he’ll protect green spaces

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak making a speech during a business reception at Mori Art Museum, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, Tokyo, ahead of the G7 Summit in Japan. Picture date: Thursday May 18, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS G7. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

RISHI Sunak today hit back at Labour’s vow to build more houses – insisting he wants to “protect our green spaces”.

A major housing battle at the election was teed up as the PM sided with critics of Sir Keir Starmer’s plan to free up thousands of acres of land for new homes.

Rishi Sunak said he would protect green spaces

The PM has arrived in Hiroshima for the G7 summit

And his words will put him on track for a battle with Tory MPs who want the PM to do far more to build homes to woo over the younger generation, who are struggling to get on the property ladder.

Tories like former Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke have been leading the push for a proper offer to people on homes.

The Labour boss said earlier this week he would loosen rules to build on green belt land and bring back housing targets by backing “the builders not blockers”.

Under current planning rules in England, new buildings can only be constructed on green belt land in exceptional circumstances.

Sir Keir accused the Tories of “killing the dream of home ownership” amid warnings building could drop to levels not seen since World War II.

But last night Mr Sunak stuck by his controversial promises to move away from top-down housing targets despite an ongoing row in his party about how to build more homes.  

Sir Keir said he would bring them back if he wins the next election.

And it comes as record migration stats out next week are set to show that Britain’s population may have grown by up to one million extra in the last year alone – putting yet more pressure on housing.

Tories promised to build 300,000 new homes a year, but the figures have been dented by the pandemic and greedy developers sitting on land.

Mr Sunak told reporters: “On the green belt, I was very clear over the summer what I was going to do, which was move away from nationally imposed top down housing targets on local areas. 

“I don’t think that is the right approach. 

“I was very clear over the summer, I wanted to make sure our green spaces are protected. I think that is what local communities want.”

Locals have been empowered with more say in local plans – so they can impact new developments in their areas, he claimed.

And he backed NIMBY Tories who don’t want housing being shoved up in their areas, saying: “it’s not necessarily an opposition to housing itself, it’s how and where exactly it’s done, and the infrastructure that comes alongside it.”