What next for planning reform?


Source: Stephen Dorey/Alamy

A government climbdown on a new formula to determine housing need looks inevitable in the face of Tory backbench revolt. Will it now also have to backtrack on its wider planning reforms, asks Joey Gardiner

Last month’s debate on government proposals for a new formula to determine local housing need saw a procession of Conservative MPs line up to berate their own government, including senior Tories such as Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt and Chris Grayling. Indeed, so many had put their name down on the order paper to speak – 55 according to one Labour MP – there was not time for all of them to get their turn. 

The centrally set “mutant algorithm” – as Conservative MP Philip Hollobone dubbed it – proposes huge increases in housing numbers in many leafy shire district councils in the South-east, while recommending lower numbers in many northern cities. The contradiction set against the prime minister’s flagship “levelling up” agenda has presented critics with an open goal.

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