WaGCG : Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG)

Column 16th November 2022

Will PM pledges be kept?

Our new Prime Minister has now been in power for almost a month and shows no sign of leaving soon so I thought I ought to take a look at what his ideas are for planning and what they may mean for us.

As Chancellor he didn’t say much about planning but when campaigning for the new job he did make some comments.

He has pledged "to make sure developers build out faster on sites where they already have planning permission" to "drive up house-building while protecting the green belt."

He explained that developers will be required to "build on land which already has planning permission locally first, before they are granted more permissions in the same area".

He also proposed a "build-out levy to be raised on unbuilt planning permissions after a set period of time."

Prior to becoming Prime Minister he has also said he will aim to help councils to complete local plans by "immediately relaxing constraints", such as the requirement to demonstrate a five year housing land supply and the 'duty to cooperate', which "prevent local authorities from getting local plans in place".

This might help the District Council to complete their new Local Plan but they will still need a new assessment of local housing need but may not have to take the overflow of housing required in Oxford City.

He has also promised to review how assessments of local housing need are calculated, which he said are still based on 2014 Statistics.

He has, of course, started making noises about the economy having changed since he made these statements and has appointed Michael Gove as Minister for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities again.

So will things go back to the ideas from earlier this year or will the PM’s pledges be more than electoral statements (made for effect and not to be taken seriously)?

Mr Gove is wedded to the 300,000 homes per annum target and was the author of the Levelling Up agenda so by appointing him the PM is implicitly supporting those views.

I’m not sure that the reforms in both the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, and the associated re-write of the National Planning Policy Framework, will help the PM’s pledges to make developers build faster and use existing permissions first before being granted more, or imposing a build-out levy - but we’ll have to see.

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