Revolt in PM’s own constituency over planning reforms

Boris Johnson may want to build back better but he better not build in his own backyard, Conservatives in his constituency have warned.

George Grylls, The Times, Saturday 14

The prime minister and Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, are facing revolts over plans to give developers approval to build huge numbers of new homes. Tory councillors responsible for planning in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Mr Johnson’s constituency, and Newark, Mr Jenrick’s seat, have said the reforms are “worryingly naive”. One said that he initially thought the proposals were a joke.

About 80 Tory MPs plan to oppose the reforms, which will limit the ability of residents to block developments. They have denounced a “mutant algorithm” which allocates where homes will be built. The formula demands increases in housebuilding in rural areas and London, while development in many northern cities will shrink.

Keith Burrows, head of planning at Hillingdon council, in Mr Johnson’s constituency, said that the plan was “one of the worst pieces of planning legislation we’ve had for a long time”. He added: “We always have legislation come out of central government and some of it makes sense. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t. This one is so out of the field, I don’t know whether the person [who came up with it] was just bored.”

Mr Burrows said that when he was presented with the plans “I actually thought somebody was pulling my leg”.

Under the reforms 446 new homes a year will need to be built in Mr John son’s west London constituency. Mr Johnson has previously been critical of housebuilding in the area. Last year he objected to a scheme for 514 flats.

In Mr Jenrick’s constituency Roger Blaney, of Newark and Sherwood district council’s planning committee, said that the algorithm’s focus on the southeast contradicted the government’s “declared intention of levelling up”.

A housing ministry spokesman said: “We’re reforming the country’s planning system to deliver the high-quality, sustainable homes communities need.”