Gove pledges to speed up planning and build more homes with new planning framework announced

Credit: AdobeStock/richard flint/EyeEm
Credit: AdobeStock/richard flint/EyeEm

Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities, has unveiled reforms to housing and planning at a meeting held yesterday [19 December].

The Housing Secretary said he was ‘confident’ the government will meet the manifesto pledge of increasing housebuilding to 300,000 homes a year by the middle of the decade ‘once we get back to a normal level of interest and mortgage rates.’

He also said: “My department is on a mission to ensure that we see growth spread across the country – more towns and cities regenerated, more communities empowered to grow, more homes built and more innovation unleashed. 

“That is why we passed the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act…It’s why we’re spending billions on urban regeneration, while we have a new approach to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects led by my brilliant colleague Lee Rowley, and why he and I today publish our new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).” 

“This infrastructure plan and the new Planning Framework have been designed to deal with the concerns, objections and obstacles which have stood in the way of the development we need, in the places that we need it.” 

Replacing the previous September 2023 publication, the new NPPF sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how these should be applied. It provides a framework within which locally-prepared plans can provide for sufficient housing and other development in a sustainable manner.

He also pledged to introduce more accountability for local councils, with league tables for planning authorities.

Industry reactions

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has welcomed the government’s plans to speed up the planning system and get new homes built across Britain.

The BMF says the move to accelerate approvals through the planning system will provide a boost for housing development creating new jobs and local growth.

BMF CEO, John Newcomb, said: “We need to get Britain building again.

“This speech was a step in the right direction in setting out intent to increase accountability in the planning system in order to deal with the root cause of the country’s housing issues, namely a lack of supply.

“We will now study further details of the policy and continue to push for the right conditions to accelerate development and create quality homes that the nation needs.”

Meanwhile, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) said that making better use of local house builders offers the best solution to tackling planning objections from communities not wanting new homes, in response to Gove’s announcement.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Michael Gove has made clear he wants to see more beautiful homes that overcome the worries local communities may have on developments. What better way to address this than to use local house builders, that deliver high quality, small sites in the local style. If the nation’s small house builders can be grown to the levels of delivery, they once enjoyed a few decades ago, small high-quality sites can become the norm across the UK. We can return to organic, sustainable housing growth, rather than relying on large scale, cookie cutter housing.

“It’s positive to see that local authorities will be held to account for not delivering on housing and that they will be made to allocate land to small builders. However, we’ll judge land allocation of small sites on the results, as previous efforts have failed. It’s also positive to see that local authorities are being pushed to deliver on local plans. A lack of a local plan is particularly difficult for smaller house builders, who have named land availability one of the biggest barriers to new delivering new homes. However, changes made to stop local authorities allocating greenfield land for development to meet housing needs will result in less housing, particularly in rural areas which are the heartlands of smaller house builders.”

He concluded: “Overall Gove’s announcement is a bit of a mixed bag. While there are some positive overtures, there isn’t not enough here to turn around the ailing housing market, particularly for smaller house builders. The planning system needs a significant overhaul that helps to boost smaller sites that deliver sustainable organic growth. But at the core of this, we need well-funded and staffed planning teams that can help SMEs through the planning system.”

No posts to display