Doubts have been raised about the new Government’s plans to build enough homes to ensure economic growth.

Under the agreement that paved the way for the current Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition, the two parties are expected to abandon national housing targets in favour of giving financial incentives to councils.

Local authorities would be able to claim back 100% of council tax – or 125% if the homes are affordable – for the first six years on every new development.

At the moment council tax is collected locally then redistributed nationally by the Government.

Under Labour, Brighton and Hove City Council had a target to build 11,000 new homes during the next 20 years.

Tony Mernagh, executive director of the city’s Economic Partnership, said he doubted the Government’s plans would achieve the right level of housebuilding.

He explained: “If you leave building to the local authority there is no appetite to build because it is a vote loser.

“Also, if councils are to get 125% of tax for affordable homes, where is that money going to come from?”

Keith Bowler, of the Brighton office of property consultants MDA, warned: “Creating this incentive scheme and allowing local authorities to have complete control over development in their area could be very dangerous.

“Some councils in more affluent areas are wealthy enough not to worry about such incentives and could stop development, especially social housing, thus furthering the gulf between the rich and the poor.”

Graham Cosham, a health and safety consultant who works with many of Brighton’s housebuilders, said there were “two trains of thought” on the issue. He added: “The first is that it will allow all and sundry to object under a ‘nimbyists charter’.

“Planning departments will be under no pressure to allow new housing and on past records this does not bode well.”

On the plus side, Mr Cosham said the plans would remove pressure to build on greenbelt land, while they might also prevent developers cramming lots of flats into small sites to hit targets.

He said: “Well-designed and well-placed family properties are what is needed in this area. Will the local authority push to provide this without relying on targets?

“A lot depends on the will and commitment of the council.”

Phil Graves, president of the Brighton and Hove Estate Agents Association, said the city would always struggle to meet its housing targets because of the lack of space and the influence of various conservation groups. But he called for the new Government to be given time to prove its plans could be successful.

Mr Graves said: “We have got to raise these questions rather than just fear it won’t work.

“We need to create solutions to these problems together.”