PM flags desire for brownfield development in detail-light speech
Boris Johnson has insisted his government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda can lead to new housebuilding while at the same time easing fears about development in southern England.
In only fleeting references to housing in his keynote speech, the prime minister appeared to try and square the circle between the government’s aim to build 300,000 homes a year and allaying ‘nimby’ concern from backbenchers.
He said that the high demand to live in some parts of the country, for example Buckinghamshire, has led to problems including “the constant anxiety that your immemorial view of chalk downland is going to be desecrated by ugly new homes.”
He said there is a lot of room to build homes for young families, “not on green fields, not just jammed in the south east, but beautiful homes on brownfield sites, in places where homes make sense”
In a detail-light speech he added: “That is why levelling up works for the whole country and is the right and responsible policy, because it helps to take the pressure off parts of the overheating south east while simultaneously offering hope and opportunity to those areas that have felt left behind. “
Johnson also said new housing can play a big part in solving the country’s ‘productivity puzzle’
He said: ““If you don’t have too far to go to work, and the commute is not too dreadful, and if the job suits your skills, and your Wi-Fi is fast and reliable, then I tell you something else, that housing, in the right place, at an affordable price, will add massively not just to your general joie de vivre but to your productivity.”
Clues from ministers as to the future of the government’s planning reforms have, however, been far and few between during the Conservative party conference in Manchester this week.
Michael Gove, housing secretary did not mention planning at all in his keynote speech on Monday. This followed reports over the weekend that Gove had ordered a complete rethink of the government’s proposed planning reforms, including ditching proposals to limit councils’ powers to stop new developments in their areas.