BASINGSTOKE has built homes for 150,000 people over the past 60 years - double the rate of the rest of the country. We are an exception - consistently building more houses than our own community needs, making up for such low levels of house building elsewhere.

But residents are increasingly alarmed at the number of new houses springing up across the town and in surrounding villages, and are starting to appreciate the build levels are fuelled by the needs of other communities, not the needs of our own residents and their children. So, together we have launched a campaign to ‘Slow it Down’ house building which has real traction, with over 4,000 people signing a public petition, calling on the council to cut house building in its proposed local plan. This is not a party political issue - it’s cross party. It affects all residents. Because local services, especially the NHS, are simply not keeping up with the increased demand.

I successfully fought, along with other MPs, to change the planning rules so that councils like Basingstoke and Deane can now make the case to reduce house building numbers, rather than being set a non-negotiable target by Government. A number of local authorities are already using these new rules, brought in last year, to cut their house building numbers - but not Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. 15 local authorities have already significantly cut their house build numbers. In South Staffordshire their local council has reduced its annual housing target by more than 40 per cent; Hertsmere council has cut its plans for new development by 25 per cent; and in North Somerset, the number of houses in the local plan has been reduced by 29 per cent by scrapping three major developments on green belt land. So, why isn’t our council doing the same? Basingstoke and Deane need to quickly catch up with what other councils have already done and change their approach. The current local plan proposes to ratchet up house building to even more unsustainable levels. Residents are clear, this needs to stop.