Gove set to hit pause on controversial housebuilding targets


New Housing Secretary Michael Gove is expected to pause the government’s planning changes and review them before deciding how to proceed, according to the Guardian.

The proposed reforms, previously under consultation, would have given councils mandatory housebuilding targets in an effort to hit 300,000 new homes per year.

Back in May, Advantage noted that the planning reforms, which would have created zones where some planning proposals couldn’t be opposed by residents, were likely to prove controversial, stating: “Although we’ve yet to see any details of the new planning bill, we suspect that potentially offering automatic planning permission in designated ‘growth’ areas will not prove universally popular.”

Gove likely to pause & review plans

constructionThe Guardian reported:

“It is understood that Gove, who was handed the housing portfolio in Wednesday’s reshuffle, is minded to pause and undertake a complete review of the plans, in consultation with backbench colleagues and industry stakeholders.”

Earlier this week, Estate Agent Today reported that the proposals had provoked a backlash, particularly among Tory voters, and The Times newspaper suggested on Saturday, ahead of Gove’s appointment as Housing Secretary, that the reforms may be scrapped.

Part of the reason is believed to be political after the Conservatives’ shock by-election loss to the Liberal Democrats in Chesham and Amersham in June.

A record number of homes were built in 2019/2020

UK house pricesAccording to Estate Agent Today, there is also a feeling that change is happening naturally after record numbers of homes were built in 2019/2020 at 244,000.

This was the highest number since the 1980s and is believed to have been boosted by other changes such as reforms of permitted development rights that let builders turn high-street businesses into flats and add two storeys to existing buildings without planning permission.

The Manchester Evening News reported that a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said on Friday:

“We will not comment on speculation. Our response to the consultation will be released in due course.”

Advantage’s view: Since we last wrote about the government’s proposed planning reforms, opposition to designating ‘growth’ or ‘protection’ zones, with residents unable to oppose developments within growth zones, has grown. Following Gove’s move to housing, there is ongoing speculation about whether these planning reforms will go ahead. If reports that Gove is set to pause and review the reforms are accurate, we may well have to wait a little longer than anticipated to learn the fate of the planned ‘growth’ and ‘protection’ zones.

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