Secretary of state Sajid Javid is facing opposition to planning system reforms from other ministers, it has been reported
The ministers fear a ’huge backlash in Middle England’ over Javid’s reform proposals.
The secretary of state is expected to publish a housing white paper later this month, which will outline his vision to accerate housebuilding.
According to the Financial Times, Javid recently said that current levels of construction are ‘nowhere near good enough’ after failures by successive governments to boost housing development, and has proposed ’long-lasting reform’ as the solution. Javid’s plans include making councils increase the number of homes they are required to build.
The FT reported that Javid has been backed by business secretary Greg Clark, who led the reforms to the NPPF as a junior minister. However prime minister Theresa May reportedly has misgivings, following the negative reaction from the home counties when the Coalition Government attempted to change the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) five years ago.
One senior Tory MP told the newspaper: ‘It’s not just May who has issues with this; other senior ministers are very concerned. They just can’t speak out, because they are ministers.’
Meanwhile Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, told the FT that it would be ‘toxic’ to force councils to increase housing targets when local authorities were struggling to meet their current goals.
If this happens there will be a huge backlash in Middle England
He said: ‘If this happens there will be a huge backlash in Middle England. People will not have faith in the planning system. We will return to a situation where not enough homes are getting built, but we still have lots of planning battles.’
Some 189,900 homes were built or converted in the financial year 2015/16, a figure which, despite marking an improvement on previous years, is significantly below the annual 300,000 homes recommended by the House of Lords’ Select Committee on Economic Affairs last July.
The government has a target of building one million new homes by 2020.