Direction of Planning?

23 November 2022

Comment by Michael Gove

Michael Gove Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has given evidence Parliamentary Levelling up Committee on 21st November.

He made some interesting points

  • He is committed that the government’s housing target should be met by building more homes on urban and brownfield sites. Gove commented that “whatever figures you arrive at nationally, and how it’s broken down authority by authority, a greater proportion of housing need should be met in urban areas and on brownfield sites.”
  • Achieving a 300,000 a year homes target has issues he said there had been a “live debate” and a “useful one on how numbers are generated”, and how housing need is assessed.
  • Densification Gove commented that “Many of our cities are significantly less dense than their counterparts elsewhere and that is bad for everything from transport to economic growth.” 
  • Stop building on Land not identified in a local plan. Gove believes that in plan making “Once a plan has been adopted, a community can feel confident that you don’t get speculative development undermining the commitment to local democratic control,”
  • Local Authoriy exceeds its Housing Numbers.  Gove indicated that if a local authority over the past five or seven years has built more than the assessed need required, that this would be recognised by a reduction in future planning periods.

Many commentators believe Gove is looking to revise the way local housing need is calculated so that it promotes higher housing numbers in towns and cities and in more deprived areas, and less in rural parts of the country.

Conservative MP’s Force Planning Changes?

On the 22nd November Rishi Sunak had to delay a debate on long awaited planning reforms.  This was due to many Conservative MP’s threatening to vote against the proposed changes related to housing targets.  The plan to continue with centrally set national target currently 300,000 has caused a about to 50 MP’s to sign amendments to the mandatory, centrally-set targets embodied in the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill.

The climbdown came after lead rebel Theresa Villiers, the former Northern Ireland Secretary, said the plans would encourage “development which damages the environment and quality of life”.

The controversial sections was due to be debated on 28th November, the  debate will now be delayed by several weeks to allow further debate with Tory backbenchers.

The amendment proposed by the dissenting MP’s would have meant that house-building targets would be advisory and not mandatory, and thus carry considerably less weight in determining planning applications.

Amendments annouced the White Paper 18/11/2022

Thes are aimed at:

  • Tackle slow build out by developers to make sure much needed new homes are delivered. 
  • Improve our environment and enshrine in law an obligation on water companies to clean up our rivers by upgrading wastewater treatment works. 
  • Give residents a new tool to propose additional development on their street, like extensions to existing homes, through ‘street votes’. Pilot Community Land Auctions – testing a new way of capturing value from land when it is allocated for development in the local plan to provide vital infrastructure, including schools, roads, GP surgeries, and the affordable housing that communities need.
  • Enhancing powers for mayors to support them to managing their key route networks and increase transport connectivity across their area.
  • Help Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects such as wind farms and new major transport links be delivered more quickly, by enabling a small number of public bodies to charge for their statutory services to help them provide a better, reliable, quality of advice to developers and support faster planning decisions.


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