“……On Friday a committee of experts assembled by the duo [Cummings and Jenrick] met for the first time to “think about very substantive changes” to planning rules. ……Cummings and Jenrick are also backing a new fast-track system for developers of high-quality, well-designed buildings. And they will move to a zonal planning system where key decisions will be taken from local councils and handed to development corporations...”
Owl reproduces the section on Planning taken from a longer Sunday Times article: “The sectionCoronavirus lockdown: now it’s the economy, stupid”
Tim Shipman, www.thetimes.co.uk
Planning rules could be changed in an attempt to help the high street
Jenrick has also worked up changes to planning rules to speed up approvals, from weeks to days, for restaurants and pubs to put socially distanced tables on pavements. He will announce this week that the government is doubling the time marquees can be put up by a pub from 28 days to 56 — making it easier for beer gardens to operate in changeable weather.
Non-essential shops will reopen from June 15. Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, is also pushing for hair and beauty salons to open as soon as possible to help people’s “general wellbeing”, urging the business department to act without sign-off from the scientists. He told one ministerial meeting last week: “Just crack on.”
Johnson’s change of approach is seen as evidence of a power shift in No 10 away from his senior aide Dominic Cummings, who has been the most outspoken advocate of a tough lockdown and the most conspicuous flouter of it with his notorious trip to Durham.
Simon Case, the private secretary to Prince William, has been made permanent secretary in No 10 to drive through the next moves. Insiders said Case sees every paper that crosses Johnson’s desk and is supporting ministers who fear for the economy. “Case seems to be an enthusiast for getting on with things now,” one Tory adviser said.
In a sign that Johnson is prepared to water down another Cummings project — the 14-day quarantine rules for new arrivals at Britain’s borders that come into force tomorrow — the PM told Shapps to negotiate “travel corridors” with holiday destination countries such as France, Spain and Greece by June 28. “That’s how the quarantine stuff becomes irrelevant,” a source with knowledge of the conversations said.
One area where Cummings does remain influential is planning, where he and Jenrick are working together to kickstart housebuilding and infrastructure spending as part of a Johnson-Sunak plan to stimulate the economy. On Friday a committee of experts assembled by the duo met for the first time to “think about very substantive changes” to planning rules. The experts included Bridget Rosewell, the national infrastructure commissioner; property developer Sir Stuart Lipton; and Christopher Katkowski, Britain’s leading planning QC.
In an attempt to help the high street, businesses will be able to change their use “with complete flexibility”. Cummings and Jenrick are also backing a new fast-track system for developers of high-quality, well-designed buildings. And they will move to a zonal planning system where key decisions will be taken from local councils and handed to development corporations — though building on the green belt will not be permitted.
The economic plan will also include a “bad bank” to swallow up the debts of companies who default on the government’s bounce back loans. A “cash for clunkers” car scrappage scheme, where motorists would be encouraged to trade in their old vehicles for a new electric or hybrid car, is also on the table.
While Johnson has come around to Sunak’s position that the economy should now be the priority, divisions remain between No 10 and No 11 over how to pay for the economic stimulus package.
Johnson is keen to load most of the costs on to borrowing, while Treasury officials fear that would spook the markets and lead to inflation. Civil servants in the Treasury are calling the prime minister “the blue socialist” and “Jeremy Corbyn on steroids”.