Gove ‘shakes up’ planning with brownfield first aspiration

Michael Gove recently announced a raft of planning aspirations, making it harder for councils to refuse planning on brownfield land if local housing targets are not being met; he said: “existing buildings in urban areas where there’s infrastructure can be converted from offices or other commercial uses into new flats”.

Rishi Sunak later echoed Gove’s sentiments stating that “we need to build more in cities” and pledged that “new laws will make it easier for all commercial buildings to be turned into new homes” which in turn will “help revitalise high streets”.

Gove stated that councils will ‘have to automatically greenlight new homes in their area’ if they are found to be failing hitting targets. Despite this, many will be well aware of Gove’s decisions in the past year that have hampered the UK’s ability to meet its housing need. Gove made housing targets ‘advisory’ and put the brakes on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

His plans have done little to restore faith within the industry with the Home Builders Federation describing Gove’s latest initiative as “tinkering around the edges”, asserting that such measures fall short of the action needed to tackle the broader issue of housing effectively.

Speaking out in The Times, Alistair Osborne also took a swipe at the Tories, claiming the government’s latest strategy is less about meeting the needs of the people and more about “political point scoring”.

While there is a question of whether Labour’s announced planning policies are radical enough to solve the UK’s gargantuan housing issues, there is no question that, while Gove and Sunak are making some of the right noises regarding housing, the government has had 14 years to fix these problems, and brownfield first is just a small part of the overall housing equation.

Author: Melisa Geshteja

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