Sir – Mr Tyce (Letters, May 16) is almost certainly right that given the chance the residents of Thame would have voted for fewer than 775 houses in their local plan.

On the other hand, it is also almost certainly the case that if house-builders were unrestrained by the need for planning permission they would build far more than 775 houses in and around Thame over the plan period, and that they would have no difficulty selling these houses to people who wanted to live in an attractive town, good for commuting and with good schools.

Against the votes of existing residents should be set the would-be residents who would vote with their feet and their pockets. Measures of (un)affordability show that there is a considerable shortfall of dwellings in this area relative to demand.

Our existing planning system struggles to meet this demand as it effectively gives a heavy weight to the desire of existing residents to preserve the status quo and maintain the scarcity value of their houses. Government targets are a very imperfect way of seeking to redress this, and I agree with Mr Tyce to the extent that there must be a better way of doing things — although he clearly does not agree with my view that a better system has to take more account of housing demand and need.

A good starting point for creating real localism would be for the Government to reverse the centralising policies of both major parties over the past 40 years and restore to local authorities some financial and policy-making autonomy.

Fiddling about with half-baked schemes for allowing bigger extensions smacks of re-arranging the deck chairs on a well-known metaphor.

Henry Brougham, Kidlington