Times Gove has ‘ruled out proposals to limit the power of local planning committees to block housebuilding’


Fresh laws to block “ugly” new homes have been promised as ministers reverse plans to limit the power of local residents to veto development.

The new housing secretary, Michael Gove, is understood to have ordered a complete rethink of the planning reforms and has ruled out proposals to limit the power of local planning committees to block housebuilding.

Gove is also said to want to make housing companies pay more to local communities to improve amenities in areas where development takes place.

Last month ministers signalled the start of a retreat from what had been billed as the biggest shake-up of planning law in 70 years, designed to help reach a target of 300,000 new homes a year. This would have involved a new zonal system to strip homeowners of the right to object to new building in areas earmarked for development. Councils would also have been given mandatory housebuilding targets. The plans were blamed for the Liberal Democrat victory in the Chesham & Amersham by-election in June and have faced sustained criticism from southern Tory MPs and activists.

Oliver Dowden, the party chairman, acknowledged that the government had erred, telling the Tory conference in Manchester: “We have the wisdom to listen to people and the humility to learn how we can do better. . . we are looking again at our planning reforms.”He insisted that the goal was never to “rip up controls” [err Boris said just that in the forward], saying changes did not automatically mean “ugly and disproportionate development”. But Dowden said “additional safeguards are needed. . . We need to set out in law measures to protect our towns, villages and precious countryside from being despoiled by ugly development.”He told activists to “watch this space” for more details of the changes, which are at an early stage of development. [clause One..Ugly Development Is Banned, clause 2 ‘Ugly deformed or maimed people are banned from the streets’ [the infamous Chicago ugly law]…clause three dogs that look like nasty are banned… Well just ban houses made of concrete in villages – btw how often do planner see applications for houses made of concrete of steel in villages – its just planning reform bullshit]

Gove criticised developers that built homes out of steel and concrete, saying the principles of Georgian architecture had been “neglected”. The housing secretary also said that the materials most favoured by developers had the worst environmental impact. [be practical then end the Mayor of London’s ludicrous ban on Wood, when in Paris for example you now have to use wood on carbon grounds]

Speaking at a fringe event at the party conference, Gove urged developers to take inspiration from the architects of 19th-century housing.“Beauty doesn’t mean that every house has to be built in a Georgian style, but there are various human principles about how streets have developed which have been neglected, and alienating,” he said.“We need to think about the materials with which we build. . . some of the materials which have been favoured in the past by developers like steel and concrete are those with the highest level of embedded carbon and often the materials that are least likely to win fans. . . particularly outside already densely populated urban areas.”

Gove took over from Robert Jenrick, who was sacked in last month’s reshuffle after backbench criticism of the planning reforms.

Government sources said the upcoming planning bill was likely to be much less radical than previously envisaged and could amount to little more than a “tidying up exercise” of the present rules. “There is always a danger with planning reforms that you actually slow down the pace of development because builders are waiting for the new rules to come into place,” one said. “There will be legislation but it is likely to be limited to making the current system we have work better.

”Some question whether the planning system is really to blame for rising prices that have made homeownership increasingly unaffordable for first-time buyers, pointing to the 244,000 homes built in 2019-20, the highest for more than 30 years.

Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin & Harpenden, suggested yesterday, at a fringe event organised by the Centre for Policy Studies, that restricting buy-to-let mortgages may have had a bigger impact than building more houses.

Seems like a license for bad behavior by local committees continuing to throw out sites allocated in plans. The fact that ‘Government sources’ are pedalling the discredited Iain Mulherne line that we dont need more housebuilding, even after Jenryk and his spads being fired suggest its comes from Number 10.

Dowden’s Conference Speech – Laws will stop ‘ugly’ development despoiling countryside – but he criticises those who want to restrict New Housing


New laws will prevent the countryside being “despoiled by ugly development”, the Tory chairman has vowed in a message of reassurance to the shires.

“Of course, no government is perfect, but I’d like to think that at least we have the wisdom to listen to people and the humility to learn how we can do better,” he said.

“That’s why we are looking again at our planning reforms…. Yes, Britain’s growing population must have new houses but it’s clear that additional safeguards are needed.”

He continued: “We need to set out in law measures to protect our towns, villages and precious countryside from being despoiled by ugly development. Watch this space.”

Mr Dowden insisted that the Government’s proposals had been deliberately misconstrued by the opposition, however.

The Lib Dems have “shamelessly” stoked fears that overhauling the planning system will lead to “ugly and disproportionate development”, he said.

The party chairman stressed that his constituents in Hertsmere “would have a thing or two to say about it” if it were true, but added that ministers will legislate to prevent that outcome.

So no pause on beautiful development then?

Economist – Conservatives to Shift Away from Emphasis on 300k National Housing Aspiration

No No No, does Gove want to repeat EVERY mistake of Eric Pickles? Mulheirn is a charlatan that leave housing experts head in hands, he doesn’t account for teh vast increase in second homes and holiday lets, he doesn’t even make a distinction between houses and households, doesn’t account for household suppression, or even understand the concept of local housing markets as he aggregates every statistic at a national level. He didn’t even understand (a mistake the economist also makes) that net completions data includes flat conversions. He has been debunked again and again. He wouldnt pass a Housing Statistics 101 class at first year

He is to Advocado Nimbys what Piers Corbyn is to ant-vaxers, and Alex Jones is to MAGAs. Their fake news acolyte.

So its Tory Policy now to let house prices to rise by 15% through restricting supply is it? Remember this is a compound rate so over a generation, compared to Germany, housing consumes twice the proportion of real wages as in England. This is at a time when over the last 5 years their has been a flood of peer reviewed studies which are creating a consensus in urban economics that their is a very clear correlation with house price affordability and zoning restrictions.

I should note it was Jenryks spads that were briefing this way. They are out on their arses now.


In 1975, in
 her first conference speech as Conservative leader, Margaret Thatcher pledged to build “a property-owning democracy”. More than 45 years later homeowners are still more likely to back the Tories than their rivals, and so the government would like there to be more of them. In 2017 it set an ambitious target of increasing the housing stock by 300,000 units a year in England. To help hit that target, in 2020 Boris Johnson, the prime minister, promised to simplify planning and weaken locals’ rights to object to development.

But housing and planning present the Conservatives with a dilemma: although they want more homeowners, they do not want to annoy existing ones. A by-election loss in June to the Liberal Democrats in the constituency of Chesham and Amersham, prosperous commuter towns, was chalked up in part to local anger over planned development. It spooked the party leadership. Backbenchers, too, are growing nervous. Political insiders now expect a shift in emphasis at the Conservative Party conference, which starts on October 3rd, away from building new homes and the 300,000 annual target, and towards increasing taxpayer support to enable first-time buyers to take on larger mortgages.

British homes are expensive. Since 1995 prices have gone up by 170% in real (ie, inflation-adjusted) terms, one of the fastest increases among rich economies (see chart). The median house in England and Wales cost five times the median salary in 2002, but closer to eight times by 2020. Home ownership, which had been rising for decades, peaked in the early 2000s). Over the past two decades a consensus has emerged among politicians and policymakers that the main reason has been too little supply. But since the mid-2010s Ian Mulheirn, an economist who now works at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, has argued that the main causes of higher house prices have been falling real interest rates and looser credit.

For a long time, Mr Mulheirn seemed a voice in the wilderness. But now, it seems, the government is listening. Michael Gove, who became the minister responsible for planning and housing in September’s reshuffle, has reportedly taken to telling colleagues that only around 15% of the growth in house prices of the past two decades can be explained by lack of supply. Nick Boles, a minister for planning in the early 2010s, an ally of Mr Gove and long almost evangelical on the need for planning reform, has changed his view too.

Mr Mulheirn provides cover for the new direction. He has long argued that there is little evidence of an undersupply of housing. He cautions against reliance on house-building volumes: what matters, he says, are total net additions to the dwelling stock. The conversion of a three-storey house into three flats is materially the same as building two new flats, but is not captured by a focus on new building. Between 1996 and 2018, the dwelling stock in England grew by an annual average of 168,000 while the number of households grew by an average of 147,000. The result was that the net surplus of dwellings rose from around 660,000 to around 1.1m. And although the price of houses as an asset has indeed soared, he argues that the price of housing as a service has not. Rents have risen more slowly than median household incomes since 1996.

On this view—which, it now seems, the government shares—the main cause of higher prices is the role of housing as an asset. Owning a home produces an implicit income: the saving that would otherwise have been spent on rent. As with other assets that provide an income stream, such as stocks or bonds, the value of that income is determined by the interest rates available elsewhere. According to this logic, house prices are high for the same reason that bond and stock prices are high: because interest rates have collapsed and credit has become looser. Mr Mulheirn does not entirely reject the notion that more supply would lower prices, but estimates that two decades of adding 300,000 units a year would reduce prices by only around 10%.

Castles in the air

This theory is not without critics. The rental data on which it is based is of low quality. Household formation does not just influence house prices; it is also influenced by them. For example, high prices may nudge young adults to stay living with their parents for longer. Real interest rates are low pretty much everywhere, but housing markets vary by country and region. Rental yields are considerably lower in London than in northern England.

In any case, even if global factors explain most of the past two decades’ rise in house prices, increasing stock in the places where people most want to live would be both welfare-enhancing and good for productivity. And encouraging young people to take on more debt need not be the sole way to improve their living conditions. More social housing could be built, and conditions in the private rental sector improved. The taxation of housing could be reformed, the better to reflect rising values. But for a government committed to increasing home ownership, none of this would help hit its central target. ■

Let pick apart the central economic fallacy

On this view—which, it now seems, the government shares—the main cause of higher prices is the role of housing as an asset. Owning a home produces an implicit income: the saving that would otherwise have been spent on rent. As with other assets that provide an income stream, such as stocks or bonds, the value of that income is determined by the interest rates available elsewhere. According to this logic, house prices are high for the same reason that bond and stock prices are high: because interest rates have collapsed and credit has become looser.

All of this is correct, by itself, however there are 4 mistakes of omission.

1) It assumes the supply elasticity curve for house prices is horizontal – it is not a fantastic assumption and ignores all the evidence.

2) It assumes the increase of capitilisation of annual income streams for housing are SOLEY to do with capitalisation of interest rates and those interest rates having nothing to do with supply. The error here is that markets always capitise returns on both profits and rents. And he assumes because services don’t have rents neither do house prices. Land markets are unique in that they include profits AND rents.

3) You never get financialization of an asset unless that asset is scarce. This is related to point 3. You don’t get garages selling petrol for 5 pounds a litre of petrol is freely flowing to the stations. Ask yourself why housing assets have become financialised, and why for example cornflakes have not.

4) It ignore the key feature of housing markets. If a person buys a new house it frees up an old house to supply. This doesn’t happen with financial assets for example. This creates the well documented ‘filtering effect’ where newly formed households buy newly available existing units on the lower cost margin of supply.

Gove – Back to the 2011 Localism Act – Gove ‘making neighbourhood planning universal and the ultimate arbiter of local development’


Hasn’t this been tried before. Did it work in raising housing numbers?

Michael Gove is to launch a paper advocating “community-powered Conservatism” that would see residents made the “ultimate arbiters” of developments in their area.

The essay, drawn up by 10 MPs, says the Government must “complete the Conservative Party’s historic mission to put power and trust into the hands of the British people”.

The paper, Trusting the People, and the decision of the new secretary for levelling up to appear at its launch at the Conservatives’ annual conference on Sunday, appears to offer a glimpse into Mr Gove’s approach to reforming the country’s planning system.

It advocates putting more public services, from mental health support to dentistry, into the hands of staff and local communities.

It also says that the Conservatives should make “neighbourhood planning universal and the ultimate arbiter of local development”.

The neighbourhood planning scheme currently allows local communities to choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be constructed, as well as to have a say on the appearance of new buildings.

The proposals come as Mr Gove prepares to put together his own package of planning reforms after a backbench revolt over an overhaul set out by Robert Jenrick, his predecessor, which Labour claimed would leave communities without a say on developments.

The new secretary of state is said to have “paused” the reforms, with an ally saying: “As you may expect, as new secretary of state in a new department he is taking some time to review proposals and engage constructively with colleagues.”

The MPs behind Trusting the People include Siobhan Baillie, who represents Stroud, Miriam Cates, the MP for  Penistone and Stocksbridge, and Jonathan Gullis, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, another 2019 intake backbencher.

The essay has drawn ideas from the MPs Danny Kruger, who is now Mr Gove’s parliamentary aide, and Claire Coutinho, an aide at the Treasury.

The paper states: “We should have more confidence. We need to move from a passive, optional ‘rights’ approach (rights to provide, rights to buy, rights to transfer, rights to challenge, rights to neighbourhood plans, etc.) to a ‘do’ approach, where community power is the standard model.

“This means deliberately putting our public services and local assets into the hands of mutuals, social enterprises and charities which are run by local people. 

“It means making neighbourhood planning universal and the ultimate arbiter of local development. It means putting social and environmental responsibilities into the purpose of business, not just into their CSR [corporate social responsibility] brochures.”

The paper is being published by The New Social Covenant Unit, set up by Ms Cates and Mr Kruger, and New Local, a think tank.

In 2011 the Conservatives experimented with reform at a period when there was huge controversy over imposition of housing numbers and loss of greenfield sites to major development.

Ultimately all it did was delay housebuilding and progress on development plans by possibly a decade as all 25 of the Green Belt schemes that Pickles bragged about getting deleted are now back in play.

There was an upsurge in neighbourhood planning, but the majority of those are just Parish Plans as they dont allocate a lot of land to development and is even now recognised as a huge missallocation of effort of the planning profession from delivery of major sites to mediating in hyper local meetings, as the department seek a new soft touch non statutory neighbourhood plans (identical to Parish Plans).

Yes there was a massive positive increase in local engagement in enighbourhood planning. But heres the rub. What if there was a 4x increase in it to cover everwyhere? Where will the planners come from to service this. Are we to give emergency 6 month visas to Albanian town planners? Its a plan that just wont work.

The ‘leave it to you’ approach on housing numbers, strategic planning and infrastructure led to a collapse in housing numbers in local plan and a massive upsurge in uncordinated ‘build what you like where you like’ appeal led planning. The Duty to Cooperate worked but its discipline can take a decade to kick in. Its too slow and no substitute to strategic planning. The standard housing method worked but the mucking around with it a disaster with environmentally sites around major cities that would otherwise have been ruled out around cities like Sheffield and Portsmouth being considered as Cities have to seal with fantasy silly numbers upflifts and which have nothing to do with local need or evidence of delivery. A standard method fails if it isn’t any longer an objective estimate of current need.

The Clarkian localist revolution, when judged against any objective indicator, such as houses built on sites in local plans, land allocated, as a massive failure. So lets repeat it. What planet is Gove on?

How to you force localism on neighbourhoods that arnt interested ikn neighbourhood plans? Do you go back to the experiments of devolving decisions to Parishes/enighbourhoods , which led to refusals because people didn’t keep their front lawns tidy or hadnt donated enough to the local place of worship or local political representative in a ghastly recreation of 19th C Tammany Hall corruption.

I should state that making neighbourhood planning universal has appeared in policy statements by Labour and the lib-dems, its a slogan not a policy, and in terms of community power nothing particularly conservative about it. Its origins 19th Century Proudhonist Anarchism, and in England the writings of TCPA alumni Colin Ward. Communities and mutual organisations running public services is a good idea, they built the foundations of the NHS before it was nationlised, however two centuries of state centralism have massively eroded the skills and capacity needed for self governance. It would be the programme of generations not fixes before the next election.

The phrase ‘ultimate arbiters of local development’ is carefully chosen btw. It doesn’t mean a parish veto. It doesn’t say ultimate arbiters of all development and implies a planning role in strategic development.

Dany Kruger MP, i cant see any speeches by him in the house on planning, or even press reeleases on the local plan or major housing applications. He’s kept his head down with an eye on being a good boy with the whips and securing promotion. He has written extensively though on civil society, such as this new report ‘A New Social Covenant’, which contains interesting positive ideas, nothing very radical, especially on planning.