An MP has urged the Government to drop a proposed housing formula she says would “change the suburbs forever”. 

Chippng Barnet MP Theresa Villiers said changes to an algorithm used to calculate housing need could double the number of homes built in the borough each year – which she likened to cramming a new city into outer London. 

The Government says the updated formula – designed to help build 300,000 homes a year across the UK – would provide councils with a guide to housing demand rather than set targets. 

But speaking in the House of Commons on September 30, Ms Villiers warned against the urbanisation of the suburbs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The MP said: “The new algorithm could more than double the housing target in the borough of Barnet and require the equivalent of a small new city somehow to be crammed into outer London. That would see the suburbs change forever. 

“There is simply no way the algorithm’s numbers would be achievable without the major urbanisation of the suburbs, and in the Covid era, when the importance of homes with gardens and space to breathe has become ever more apparent, do the Government really want to be cramming East Berlin-style tower blocks into thousands of neighbourhoods across the country?” 

According to the Local Government Association, London is likely to see a 161 per cent increase in housing under the proposed changes to the formula. 

During a council meeting on September 26, council leader Cllr Dan Thomas suggested the updated algorithm could indicate Barnet needs to build 5,700 homes a year – more than double the current target of 2,349 new homes a year. 

Ms Villiers has also objected to the housing formula in her formal response to the Government’s consultation on the reforms. 

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “It has been over two years since the current formula was introduced, so we need to make sure it is set up to deliver the new homes the country needs. 

“What we are proposing are not targets – they would provide a guide for councils on how many homes may be needed in their area. This would be first stage in the process to measure demand, and as before, environmental constraints like Green Belt and land availability will be taken into account.  

“As these plans are still part of a consultation, the figures reported are entirely speculative.”