Saturday 11 September 2021 6:03 am

Government's ambitious planning reforms to be watered down

Planning reforms that were designed to boost homebuilding are set to watered down by the Government, according to various reports this morning.

With a target of building 300,000 new homes a year in England, ministers had said they wanted to overhaul the planning system, arguing reforms would boost the building of high-quality, sustainable homes, by streamlining the process and cutting red tape.

The Planning Bill, first mooted in the Queen’s Speech earlier this year, was designed to create a simpler, faster and more modern planning system – to replace the current one dating back to the post-Second World War era of 1947.

But The Times reports that proposals to stop homeowners being able to object to planning applications through a zonal system, and mandatory housebuilding targets for councils, would now be scrapped.

The newspaper reported that Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick would present a pared-back policy, with Tory MPs blaming the original plans for the Conservatives’ defeat in the Chesham and Amersham by-election in June to the Liberal Democrats.

Leaflets from the Lib Dems at the time attacked the policy and included quotes from prominent Tories such as former prime minister Theresa May and former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith criticising the reforms.

Detractors had been vocal in warning that the plans would undermine local democracy by removing the public’s right to be heard in person.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said on Friday: “We will not comment on speculation. Our response to the consultation will be released in due course.”

The Times reported that the growth in housebuilding numbers had also prompted questions over whether the proposals were needed.

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