Sunday 15 November 2020 2:28 pm

Boris Johnson prepares to U-turn on planning reforms in face of Tory revolt

Boris Johnson’s planning reforms will be overhauled to quell a bubbling rebellion among Tory backbenchers in another government U-turn.

The change will see the planning reforms prioritise new housing in urban areas in the Midlands and the North, instead of in rural South Eastern regions.

Read more: Beauty’s in the eye of beholder, MP says of planning reforms

Many Tory MPs have been railing against the reforms proposed by housing secretary Robert Jenrick, including former Prime Minister Theresa May.

May told MPs recently that the plans “fly in the face” of Johnson’s goal to “level up” economically deprived areas of the UK.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Jenrick will oversee a change in the algorithm which directs where new houses should be built under the new planning system.

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The current iteration of the algorithm shows that a disproportionate amount of housing that will be built to meet the government’s goal of building 330,000 new homes a year would be in rural areas in England’s South East.

Many MPs have complained the planning reforms would see an excess of housing blocks in these areas, while also neglecting cities and towns in the Midlands and the North.

Last month, Tory MP Bob Seeley said: “I don’t think this algorithm is part of the answer, but we do need to work with Robert [Jenrick] to find a better solution.”

A Ministry of Housing source told the Telegraph that Johnson and the housing secretary had been “listening to Conservative colleagues”.

Read more: Building consensus on London’s housing priorities

“We are working on a fairer formula, which still meets our housing targets but is rebalanced so that more homes are built in urban areas, particularly in the Midlands and the North,” they said.

“We are going to revitalise these town and city centres and make them great places to live and work, driving investment and new jobs.”

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