UK government backtracks on housebuilding targets after lawmakers threaten rebellion

LONDON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Britain's government on Monday scrapped plans to impose mandatory housebuilding targets on local councils after dozens of Conservative lawmakers threatened a rebellion against Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Housebuilding has been a fractious issue in Britain for years with some voters opposed to plans to build in leafy, rural areas. Successive Conservative governments have fallen well short of that target to build 300,000 more homes a year.

In a letter to lawmakers, the housing minister Michael Gove said new legislation aimed at boosting housing and infrastructure would make clear that the housebuilding target was only a "starting point" and would be "advisory".

"There is no truly objective way of calculating how many new homes are needed in an area," Gove said in the letter.

Sunak, in power for just over a month, has come under pressure from lawmakers in his own party over several issues, including making it easier to build onshore wind farms.

The government was last month forced to delay a parliamentary vote on the housebuilding plans to stop a rebellion by some lawmakers emboldened by ousting three prime ministers over the last three and a half years.

Following talks with the rebels, the government has now agreed to make changes to ensure the legislation can proceed.

The legislation is expected to return to the House of Commons next week.

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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