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Most Conservative MPs oppose planning reforms

Words: Huw Morris
Theresa May / Shutterstock

The rebellion within the Conservative Party against government proposals to reform the planning system is mounting, with research showing that most Tory MPs oppose the changes.

Government planning reforms have sparked fierce opposition from councillors, communities, ex-cabinet members and former prime minister Theresa May.

They have lambasted the proposals for removing local democracy, reducing affordable housing, giving too much power to developers, with particular outrage focusing on a government algorithm that would direct housing development to rural areas.

May told Parliament last month that the reforms were “contradictory to the levelling-up agenda” and urged ministers “to think again”.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which commissioned the research, said its latest polling showed “even more resistance to these plans on the backbenches”.

This included 88 per cent of Tory MPs who said local people should have a say over specific planning applications in their communities.

More than three-quarters of Conservative MPs think that large housebuilders will not provide good-quality, well-designed development unless they are rigorously scrutinised – 78 per cent saying they did not think large housebuilders “are always fair and transparent with local people”.

A total of 63 per cent of Tory MPs also believe that the planning reforms would result in increased pressure to use green spaces to build new housing. Meanwhile, 48 per cent of Conservative MPs believe the government should set a more ambitious target for new homes to be zero-carbon.

“To avoid pitting local communities and MPs against the government, we’re urging ministers to secure the voice of local people in their planning proposals, protect and enhance local green space and ensure that the duty for developers to build social homes remains the same,” said CPRE chief executive Crispin Truman.

“In the face of grave challenges, we’re calling on ministers to step up, learn the lessons of lockdown and deliver the homes and places that support healthy, vibrant communities.”

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