William Eichler 19 December 2023

Gove threatens to strip councils of planning powers

Gove threatens to strip councils of planning powers image
Image: Peter Rhys Williams / Shutterstock.com.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has threatened to strip local authorities of their responsibilities for planning if they ‘drag their feet’ when coming up with housing plans.

Councils in England would have three months to put in place plans to meet their housing needs, Mr Gove told The Times. If they failed, they would lose their planning powers to independent planning inspectors.

The levelling up secretary also confirmed that councils will not be expected to set aside greenfield land for housing and will be able to block developments that might alter an area's character.

A spokesperson from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: ‘We have been clear that the Government is on the side of the builders and not the blockers – councils must play their part and deliver the homes this country needs, without concreting over the countryside.’

Mr Gove is also expected to water down housing targets despite warnings such a move will endanger the Government’s commitment to build 300,000 homes per year.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, housing spokesperson for the LGA, welcomed the Government's decision to make local housing targets an 'advisory starting point which will take into account local circumstances.'

However, Cllr Rodwell said that planning was 'not a barrier to house building'.

'Nine in 10 planning applications are approved by councils, despite significant resourcing and capacity issues across the country,' he said.

'In order to help increase the speed of local plan-making and housing delivery, we urge the Government to bring forward consultations on a revised National Planning Policy Framework and National Development Management Policies which will form the backbone of a new style of plan-making due in Autumn 2024.'

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘The devastating impact of this government's reckless decision to abolish local housing targets will have real consequences for housebuilding rates across England, threatening to lock a generation out of getting a secure home of their own.’

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