HARTLEBURY'S MP says the Wychavon district is being "punished" for not having a local plan in place.

Conservative Sir Peter Luff also claimed the district was "more than pulling its weight" when it came to dealing with the UK's housing crisis.

A packed meeting at Badsey Remembrance Hall, near Evesham, was “powerful evidence of the sense of betrayal local people feel over the collapse of local planning policies,” said the MP.

At the meeting, attended by parish councils and residents from across across Wychavon, Sir Peter revealed figures from the National House Building Council showing that in Mid Worcestershire there were three-and-a-half times more new homes being started than the national average.

In 2013, the number of new homes started in Mid Worcestershire was 626. For the same year, the UK constituency average was 185 new homes started. In 2012, Mid Worcestershire started 368 new homes, whereas the UK constituency average was less than half that, at 156.

Sir Peter Luff, said: “These figures show that our area is more than pulling its weight when it comes to dealing with the housing crisis in the UK.

“But we are still being punished for not having a local plan in place and the only reason we are late getting one is that the Government failed to abolish the old top-down system of Regional Spatial Strategies in good time.

"We followed Government policy but by doing so we have unwittingly handed much of the power of decision on new housing to the developers.

“In fact, the Government should be acknowledging the way in which we welcome new houses - if they are built in the right place in accordance with locally expressed preferences.

“Wychavon District Council want to do the right thing and build the new homes that we need but still the Planning Inspectorate make it clear they expect even more."

He added: “It really is time for the Government to say that the council is free to oppose the continuing speculative development in the wrong places.

"All it needs to do is to say the planning permissions granted will count against our target and to commit to ensuring that our new local plan, the South Worcestershire Development Plan, which is now at an advanced stage, can be the test of new applications from developers. It’s that simple.”