“It will be very difficult. In the Red Wall, the housing issue isn’t as acute, but in the South where it is, Tory MPs’ majorities are at stake,” they said.
Ms Truss said in 2019 she supported building a million new homes on the green belt, but appeared to abandon that position when asked about it during the Conservative leadership race last month.
Now ministers have decided to allow further building in specific green areas if they expect that it will produce economic growth.
Robert Jenrick, the former housing secretary, was previously forced to row back on his attempts to overhaul planning laws following a revolt from Conservative backbenchers, who feared losing their seats because of anger about house building in green areas.
In many “Blue Wall” constituencies in the South of England, the Conservatives are under threat from the Liberal Democrats, who have campaigned against further development of green land.
A second Government source said that while scrapping laws designed to protect wildlife would encourage construction, it may “make people squeal” about the effect on the environment.
A plan to “compensate” the environment by creating new green areas in place of land developed within investment zones was discussed at an early stage but has since been scrapped, the Telegraph understands.
Government insiders say Ms Truss’s brand of “levelling up” differs from projects designed by Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak, which were largely focussed on giving government grants to councils in deprived areas.
Under the new investment zone policy, any council across the UK will be allowed to apply to create an area where regulations are relaxed and businesses will pay less tax, including local authorities that are already wealthy.
“It’s a supply-side approach to it. It’s all about creating areas for the private sector to invest in,” said a Whitehall source.
The source added that the policy would eventually result in poorer areas of the UK becoming richer, but that economic growth would be required first.