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Reports hint that Gove will scrap planning bill

Words: Laura Bartle
Michael Gove / Shutterstock_1819409918

Housing and levelling-up secretary Michael Gove reportedly told attendees at a private meeting last week that the government will not now proceed with the planning bill proposed in the Queen's Speech in May 2021.

It was expected that the bill would come forward in autumn 2021, but it was postponed following the replacement of Robert Jenrick with Gove as secretary of state in September.

The Telegraph reports that Gove told MPs “at a private meeting this week that he had decided not to proceed with a major separate piece of planning legislation to put the reforms into law”.

Instead, changes will be incorporated into the levelling-up and regeneration bill, which was proposed in the levelling-up white paper published earlier this month (2 February).

Conservative MPs have been concerned about the proposals, which were initially set out in white paper Planning for the Future in August 2020, in particular how homes would be distributed.

The reforms were considered to be a contributing factor as to why the Conservative Party lost the Chesham and Amersham by-election in June last year.

The Planner asked the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) about the reports and whether or not the planning bill will be dropped and reforms set out in the levelling-up and regeneration bill.

A spokesperson said: “We continue to keep the planning system under review to ensure it is best equipped to level up the country. Any changes will be announced in due course.”


Lawrence Turner, associate director of Boyer (part of Leaders Romans Group), said: “If it is the case that there will no longer be a planning bill, this represents a missed opportunity for the government. Planning reforms and improvements are key to the government’s levelling-up agenda, not least to getting anywhere close to delivering 300,000 homes a year and meeting the UK’s climate targets. Without a planning bill, this leaves many of the government’s previous commitments unanswered – specifically around standard methodology for calculating housing need; community infrastructure levy; fast-tracking of brownfield sites and permission in principle.”

Colin Brown, head of planning & development at Carter Jonas, commented: “If it is now the case that there will not be a new planning bill, then I think this is a very retrograde step by government. It is only 18 months since the prime minister promised ‘radical reform unlike anything we have seen since the Second World War’, with a key stated objective being the delivery of the homes the country needs ‘in the places we want to live at prices we can afford, so that all of us are free to live where we can connect our talents with opportunity’.

“The indication that the planning bill will now be subsumed into levelling-up legislation seems to reflect a determination to appeal to the electorate in areas opposed to new development whilst helping to shore up support in the process.”

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