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.

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