WARRINGTON South MP Faisal Rashid is calling for 'concrete assurances' that the nation's green belt land 'will not be compromised' after the Prime Minister announced reforms to planning rules.

Theresa May confirmed the existing national planning policy framework will be overhauled, pending a consultation, with councils set to have to adopt new standards to show the need for housing in their areas.

Mr Rashid said he is 'glad the Government is finally taking the housing crisis seriously as their record on housing is far from encouraging'.

He added: "However, while some of the proposals are welcome, such as plans to hold developers to account and the emphasis on developing brownfield land, I am concerned that the reforms are not bold enough to address the underlying problems.

"It is also important that we receive concrete assurances that the green belt will not be compromised – and that people and communities are not bypassed, but rather are included, in the planning process.

"New house building rates are currently nowhere near the level they need to be and with the number of rough sleepers and people in temporary accommodation rising fast it is essential that more homes are built.

"At the same time, it is also important that this is done in a responsible and sustainable way and that building these homes does not disrupt already existing communities or worsen congestion.

"We should be investing in a new generation of garden cities and new towns, creating brand new communities where people will want to live, rather than making our towns and cities denser and more crowded."

The council's local plan preferred development option set out how Warrington can deliver around 24,000 new homes and 381 hectares of employment land over the next 20 years.

Under the Government’s methodology, the town's 'housing need’ has previously been calculated at 914 new homes per year, which totals 18,280 over two decades.

However, the council calculated that 955 homes can be delivered a year, which totals 19,100 over 20 years – 4,900 fewer than the 24,000 proposed.

But, following an assessment of 'employment needs', the authority suggested increasing the 'housing need' figure to 1,113 per year, which totals 22,260 by 2037.

A 'level of contingency' was also added, along with further properties to address a ‘small backlog’ from 2015, which brought the figure to slightly more than 24,000.

The draft local plan is due to be published in autumn at the earliest, or winter at the latest, before another public consultation.