The Tories were elected on a manifesto pledge to build 300,000 homes a year, something only achievable if the planning system is simplified. But a Tory backbench revolt and a thumping defeat in the Chesham & Amersham by-election has sent the government into a headlong retreat.
All this has led some in government to conclude it would be better to, in the words of one, “take your pain in more concentrated doses”. The idea goes that ministers should approve the development of a set of new towns (where there are no residents to protest) and use the national infrastructure plan to push them through.
An even more radical solution would be for the government to use the land that it already owns, such as former military bases. It could grant itself planning permission and then directly commission small developers to build the houses. This would help break the stranglehold of the big developers.
Ecotowns anyone? What you get when you abolish strategic plans and even abolish the teams in government preparing anything like a strategic plan.