Boris Johnson to push ahead with controversial planning reforms in bid for more Tory homeowners

Cabinet ministers believe reforms could drive long-term support for tories

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Monday 10 May 2021 08:56
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The reforms will make it easier to build homes and harder for local residents to object
The reforms will make it easier to build homes and harder for local residents to object

Boris Johnson is to push ahead with controversial planning reforms in a new bill to be unveiled in tomorrow's Queen's speech.

Cabinet ministers believe that home ownership in the north and midlands is driving Tory gains in the regions seen at local elections last week, The Times newspaper reports.

Under plans previously consulted on by the government it would become harder for existing residents to block new homes – with some areas marked as fit for development by default.

But the PM faces a fight with Tory councils and MPs, some of whom believe the plans will benefit developers while doing little to build more homes.

Others oppose mass housebuilding in their areas and claim there is no need – despite rising prices and the government failing to meet its target of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Theresa May led opposition to the government's planned reforms last year, attacking them as "ill-conceived" and "mechanistic".

The briefing to the Times about the link between home ownership and Tory gains appears to be a push to convince Conservatives that it in their long-term electoral interests to build more homes.

Housing tenure is one of the most reliable predictors of voting intention, with the Conservatives having strong support among homeowners and Labour leading among private renters and social tenants.

Under the plans, zones would be identified as protected, growth, or somewhere in between – with weaker restrictions on building in areas with more demand.

Developer contributions - known as "section 106" - would also be replaced with a national tariff system.

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