Hammond, May and Javid in Deal to Put Housebuilding and Planning Reforms at Heart of Budget

Sunday Times

Theresa May and Philip Hammond have agreed a deal to make housebuilding a centrepiece of the budget this month after crisis talks last week.

The prime minister held a “trilateral summit” on Thursday night with the chancellor and Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, in an attempt to cut through cabinet divisions over housing, and agreed there would be new money, reforms to planning and incentives for the construction industry to build homes.

What might these be?

A few clues.  firstly Javid has widely pitched for more public spending on housebuilding.

The Treasury as always will demand ‘planning reforms’ as quid pro quo.

Javid and Hammond might have ganged up on May to revive measures taken out by her former aide Nick Timothy from the Housing White paper.  Alternatively it might just mean relaunching, Grant Shapps Style, measures already announced like the housing delivery test and the new OAN method.

A few other clues – what major measure championed by May’s Chief of Staff, was included in the Conservative manifesto but puzzlingly left out of the Housing White Paper – Land Value Capture of Course.

Another clue – what two year deadline is up on Budget day – the NICs report on the Oxford-MK-Cambridge strategy of course.

A bold move might be to announce the widening of it to focus more on housing, something the NIC have already publicly hinted at it doing next year, and various bodies have urged on it.

A really bold move might be to announce a series of New /Towns Garden Cities.  Perhaps in the Oxford-MK -Cambridge corridor.  It would be a mistake to announce prcise where they are to be – though everyone pretty much knows- Brown’s Ecotowns mistake, because that would result, rightly, in immediate legal challenges for not meeting the European SEA directive.  The moment something is announced in parliament it becomes part of an ‘Administrative process’ in terms of the SEA directive.

Another subtext here – Hammond and Javid are key reminder allies.  Brexiters are seeking the removal of both to tip the cabinet balance.  By ensuring a bold budget firm;ly aimed at young people they shaft Boris.  Simple really.  Expect lots of not so subtle anti Boris jokes in the Budget.

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