Michael Gove will ask his Leveling Up department to boost housing construction in the north of England, after widespread concerns that previous proposals could see development target an overwhelming majority in the south.
Gove, the new upgrade secretary, has been tasked with reviewing controversial plans spelled out in a white paper last year, which were widely seen as tilting the balance of power in favor of developers and away from local objectors.
The Prime Minister is determined to continue the development of housing on brownfields, including in the south. But it is understood that Gove will water down the reforms considerably.
Two central reform proposals, announced under his predecessor Robert Jenrick, should be largely abandoned.
In particular, the “zonal” approach, which would have prevented local populations from refusing housing in areas designated for development, will be abandoned. “It’s over,” said a cabinet minister.
Mandatory housing construction targets, which have caused widespread alarm among conservatives in the south, are also expected to be revised.
Gove, who only took office a few weeks, suggested he wanted to put the reforms in a different direction. At a sideline event on Monday, Gove said he was struck by research suggesting the disparity between the lifetime costs of rents and a mortgage was in fact higher in Yorkshire and the North East , a clue to how he plans to redefine priorities.
“In fact, 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 should not necessarily be geographically where it was before,” a- he declared.
Redesigned proposals are also likely to see communities reap a greater share of the financial benefits of granting local developments, and tighter constraints on developers to improve the local environment.
In addition to the planning overhaul, the renowned Gove department has the task of defining how the government will ‘raise the bar’ in the UK.
Johnson has made leveling his government’s central mission, having won a string of former Labor seats in the Midlands and north in the 2019 general election – but a speech in Coventry earlier this year was criticized for failing specific policies.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, whose seat of Esher and Walton is one of the Liberal Democrats’ main targets, admitted at a meeting on the sidelines of the Tory conference on Tuesday that it was difficult to persuade his voters to support leveling.
“For me, the challenge is to sell it in the south, in London. As a person who has a constituency that pays a huge amount of taxes, provides a huge amount of revenue to the public treasury, the question you are asked is “what’s in it for us?”, A- he declared.
He argued that they would eventually have to pay less tax if other parts of the country started contributing more.
“What is good for my constituents in London and the South East is that we will not be so dependent on the central economic engine of London and the South East; you will have hubs of economic activity in the west – Bath, Bristol – Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire and this corridor, the Midlands motor, the north and other parts of the UK, ”he said. “This will ease the tax burden on London and the South East. “