‘Build Back Beaver’ Boris’s Cranky Speech on ‘Jamming Homes in the South East’ Leads to the Nimby Whats App Gang of Mps demanding permission is withdrawn for 200,000 Greenfield Houses

His conference speech

beavers that have not been seen on some rivers since tudor times

 massacred for their pelts

and now back

and if that isn’t conservatism, my friends I don’t know what is

build back beaver

and though the beavers may sometimes build without local authority permission

you can also see how much room there is

to build the homes that young families need in this country

not on green fields

not just jammed in the south east

but beautiful homes on brownfield sites

in places where homes make sense

This is nit a comedy turn at a joky after dinner speech testing gags for the next Telegraoh Column.

It had an immediate effect


Ministers are under pressure to tell councils to withdraw planning permission for nearly 200,000 homes on greenfield sites after Boris Johnson announced that new homes will be built on previously developed land.

The Prime Minister announced in his party conference speech that “beautiful homes” should in future be built only “on brownfield sites in places where homes make sense”. [no he dudnt see quote above]

Glenigan, the construction industry experts, said that nearly half of the 408,000 undeveloped plots of land which had planning permission in England in August – 187,000 homes – were planned for greenfield land where work is yet to start.

On Thursday night, Tory MP Bob Seely, who led a backbench rebellion against the planning reforms, told The Telegraph that the Government should now ensure that uneconomic developments on greenfield sites should now be pulled.

He said that ministers should order a halt to development on “greenfield, the economics of which do not stack up, but which have been given planning permission”.

Mr Seely cited as one example the Pennyfeathers development for 900 homes in his Isle of Wight constituency, which has been criticised because of the pressure it will put on local roads.

Tories demand action

The demand will be one of several in a letter to the Prime Minister which is being drawn up by Tories concerned by planning reforms in the wake of Mr Johnson’s speech on Wednesday.

The MPs are also likely to demand that Mr Johnson’s “brownfield only” policy is written into the new Planning Bill, which is currently being redrawn by Michael Gove, the new Housing Secretary.

Theresa Villiers, a former Cabinet minister, said: “The PM’s comments on planning in his speech are great, but if they are to have a real impact we need to see new protections for green fields added to planning law.

“And we also need housing targets reduced in the South to stem the flood of high-rise, high-density development, which is creating immense pressure in commuter areas.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) warned there were a further 340,000 new homes planned for greenfield sites in green belt and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), which had not been given formal planning permission.

It warned of “unnecessary greenfield development that would take place between Oxford and Cambridge unless the Government radically changes its approach”.

‘Tip of the iceberg’

Paul Miner, head of land use and planning at CPRE, said: “These 187,000 houses with planning permission are the tip of the iceberg.

“There are currently 340,000 houses planned on our green belts and AONBs, never mind greenfield sites.

“We call on the Government to agree to a meaningful brownfield first policy urgently and to make it a central pillar of the forthcoming Planning Bill.

“A brownfield first policy is needed so these unnecessary proposals can be stopped.”

A source close to Mr Gove said he was committed to hitting the Government’s target of building 300,000 new homes a year in the middle of this decade.

One source said: “He is in listening mode and we have been talking to backbenchers. Our focus is definitely on brownfield sites.”

One new idea is to replace these growth zones, where development would be largely unrestricted, with smaller growth sites to avoid a risk of a “Manhattanization” in some towns and suburbs, where they become heavily developed.

The Telegraph disclosed last month that 61 Tory MPs had signed a letter to Mr Gove and the Prime Minister asking that the Planning Bill is given pre-legislative scrutiny before it is formally introduced in Parliament.

Allowing this “pre-legislative scrutiny” would show that ministers are open to finding a middle ground when the proposals are discussed. This request was made directly to Mr Gove at the meeting with rebel MPs last month.

Head in hand over Boris speech though however bad it was Goves shocking ignorence is even worse

Some facts

There is no evidence that regeneration in the north will reduce housing demand in the South. Recovery in the north reduces outmigration and increase immigration , but it also boosts household formation and wealth in the north and upskilled and higher wage people in levelled up areas will now have more ability to move south for jobs in the South so long as wages and productivity are higher there, which they will be for decades. Also more housebuilding in north is more houses for retirees from the south to move into. Shifting housing targets between functional economic area is a bad idea from John Prescott which first led to the massive escalation of house prices in the 90s as the pressure was taken off on building in the South. It tried and was proven to fail.

Brownfield First. Well again the policy was tried and failed as it just throttled supply and Wasbadly and unworkably drafted. About two years brownfield supply for South East. You cant meet Woking’s housing need in Hull. Even if you took all the nations brownfields it meets only around 2 million houses out of a need for around 15 million over 15 years. Even by CPRE’s own most optimistic figures it doesn’t work.

No Manhattan’s. If course if you want every city to look like Manhattan you go for Brownfield only – just look at Leeds. This seems to be an idea ive heard every now and again from Tory housing spokes people that if only you built a few homes in villages everywhere you don’t need these new towns and large sites. Problem is it doesn’t work. Ive done the numbers on this blog on many posts over 15 years. It means the typical rural tory authority doubling the size of every village in 15 years -political suicide. I did the numbers for Stratford District for example. A developer printed the numbers for every village for every resident and the political backlash led to members almost instantly switching from a dispersed strategy (which they had introduced away from a concentrated one because of opposition in Stratford) back to one of concentration and even adding a Garden Community. Always the political pain will be less, and far more sustainable, from Garden Communities strategies. The fact that Gove even thinks and uses terms such as ‘Manhattenisation’ shows how ill informed and still ill read in his brief he is.

So dont panic that the Uber Nimby’s and the CPRE see a tiny chink of light and reveal there real agenda, which is not just to reduce housebuilding but almost eliminate it, even from past permission. Reality will hit ministers in the face and we will get yet another u turn in a couple of years time.

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