Gove tells Conservative conference the north needs more homes

Mr Gove appeared at a planning inquiry into CALA Homes’ proposals to build on land known as Chapel Lane Meadow in Bagshot, which residents say threaten local wildlife and the character of the village.  Surrey Heath Borough Council, which recently lost its 5-year housing land supply, dropped opposition to the proposals last month, after concluding that the identified harms as a result of the proposal would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.(2019/2020)

Michael Gove is MP for Surrey Heath – Owl

George Grylls

Michael Gove has suggested that the government will move away from concentrating housebuilding in the southeast of England to encourage more development in the north and midlands.

The new housing secretary promised to invest in the regeneration of inner city areas and said that he wanted to build more homes on “neglected brownfield sites”.

He attempted at the Conservative Party conference yesterday to define the levelling-up agenda only weeks after being put in charge of the prime minister’s flagship policy. He said that levelling up meant devolving more power to local leaders, raising living standards, improving services and restoring a sense of pride in communities.

At a fringe event hosted by the Policy Exchange think tank he also suggested that the focus on building homes in the southeast was misplaced and that people in “generation rent” were suffering more in the north and northeast.

“There are a variety of reasons for that that I need to look more closely at. But actually it shows that if you really, really want to help those who are currently in rented accommodation and want to own their own homes, then the focus shouldn’t necessarily be geographically where it has been beforehand,” he added.

Last year, Conservative backbenchers rebelled against a “mutant algorithm” designed to drive down house prices in the southeast by building more homes in and around London. After outcry from Tory MPs, the algorithm was amended to encourage more development in northern and Midlands cities.

Gove suggested yesterday that the targets could be tweaked further, saying that the government’s levelling-up agenda meant building more homes in regenerated city centres. “In my department, that will mean investing in urban regeneration with new homes on neglected brownfield sites,” he said. “It also means empowering local government to make a bigger difference for good, allowing communities and councillors to take back control of our future and making greener, and more beautiful places for everyone to live.”

Gove also said that the government would like to create new higher education institutions parts of the country such as Doncaster, Grimsby and Thanet. He said that there was a need for new technical colleges because students at traditional universities spent too much time discussing “the hermeneutics of Spiderman”.