COUNCIL leader Mike Jones acknowledged housing was an issue close to his heart (and his wallet) as he must help all of his four daughters set up home.

Cllr Jones was speaking at Handley and District Parish Council about the proliferation in the number of planning applications for housing across the borough when chairman Ron Stockton pointed out the financial difficulty for first-time buyers.

Cllr Jones quipped: “Hey, Ron, you’ve got it easy! You’ve only got one daughter, I’ve got four.

“One’s left home, two want to leave home and I would like them to leave home but unfortunately, at £30-40,000 deposit each, it’s very deep pockets and not many of us have those deep pockets.”

Cllr Jones has just become a grandfather after his daughter Siobhan gave birth.

He explained that since 2003 the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), which runs until 2021, required 1,317 houses to be built each year in West Cheshire but this had only been achieved in 2006.

As a result of a housing moratorium and a recession in construction, Cheshire West and Chester Council now had to catch up over the last eight years of the plan so the number of new houses which had to be built each year was nearer to 2,000.

He added: “By law, which it has been since 2004, we have to have five years’ supply of housing land and we don’t have that and that means the local plan is effectively annulled and therefore developers can get permission pretty well anywhere.”

Cllr Jones said the Government had tried to rescind the RSS but had been defeated at judicial review by developers although ministers were now trying to get it taken off the statute books.

In the meantime, the council is to identify five years’ housing land to wrest back control of the planning system.

“We need people to be able to borrow money to build them and borrow money to buy them,” added Cllr Jones who is the Local Government Association’s spokesman on housing and the environment.