In a news release issued the night before Gove’s speech, the Department for Leveling up, Housing and Communities said the government is planning “a new urban quarter in Cambridge that will unlock the city’s full potential as a source of innovation and talent”.
But this morning Anthony Brownethe Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, condemned the proposals as “absurd” and vowed to do everything he could to stop them.
I will do everything to stop the Government’s absurd plans to impose mass housebuilding in Cambridge, where all major developments have been blocked by the Environment Agency because we are literally running out of water. Our streams, rivers and ponds have dried up.
The Browne tweet supports the claim made by Keir Starmer, when he announced Labour’s housing plan, that the Conservatives cannot be the party of mass housebuilding because their MPs often block these initiatives for their “nimby” constituents. But the Tories pointed out that many Labor frontbenchers also opposed building projects in their constituencies.
Michael Gove delivered his speech on building the house.
He begins by joking that it’s a pleasure to be “Guardian-adjacent”. He was speaking at King’s Cross, near the Guardian’s HQ.
There is a live feed at the top of the blog.
Kate Henderson, chief executive of National House Federation, told the Today program this morning that he was not impressed with what the government announced overnight about its plans to boost urban housebuilding. (See 9.12am.) Here are the main points from his interview.
Henderson said a “much bigger” plan is needed to build the house. He said that, although there are some positive aspects of the announcement, more ambition is needed. He said:
From what we heard this morning, there is an ambition there to develop the cities, which is really needed. And Michael Gove is very ambitious about housing and social housing in particular.
But from what I’ve seen so far…it’s pretty fragmented. We have such a severe housing shortage in this country, 4.2 million people are now in need of a social home and 2 million children are living in overcrowding. So there are some positive signs now but they are nowhere near the scale of ambition that we need to meet the housing needs of the country….
We need 90,000 social rented homes every year, and last year, we built around 6,500. So against key metrics, we need to have a more ambitious plan…
We need something bigger… I mean, wouldn’t it be great to have a long-term plan that looks at ending children, families stuck in temporary shelters? Or ending children, families trapped in overcrowding?
I am afraid that we cannot meet our housing needs just by building towns and cities. We should also think about the construction of rural areas.
Good morning. The Commons is in recess, but the government is not on holiday and this morning it made an announcement on housing that seems mostly intended as a swipe at Labour.
The overnight press release was headlined: “We will keep promise to build 1m new homes, says prime minister.” Normally a government that says it will do what it promises – the 2019 manifesto says the Tories will “build at least a million more homes, across all tenures, in the next parliament, in the areas that really need them” – is not considered news, even in August. But because of last year, Michael Gove, the leveling up secretary, suggests that the government is no longer committed to the target, also in the manifesto, to build 300,000 new homes a year, perhaps it is worth noting.
But the meat of the briefing is in a quote from Rishi Sunak attached to the news release. He said:
Today I can confirm that we will achieve our manifesto commitment to build 1m homes in this parliament. That is a beautiful new home for a million individual families in every corner of our country.
We must continue because we want more people to realize the dream of owning their own home.
We’re not going to do that by consolidating the countryside – our plan is to build the right homes where they’re most needed and where there’s local support, in the heart of Britain’s big cities.
“Concreting the countryside” is a reference to Labour’s housing policy, which was unveiled by Keir Starmer earlier this year and which is linked to the development of the green belt. Gove made the same argument in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph published yesterday, claiming that Labor is the party of “suburban sprawl” that wants to “gobble up the green belt”.
To support its claim that it will be able to build 1m houses in the course of this parliament, the government has announced measures to clear the planning backlog, as well as confirming proposals, which have been floated before, to relax some of the rules that restrict urban development. This is how they are described.
The government will also take steps to open bottlenecks in the planning system that are suffocating and slowing development, and stopping growth and investment by:
– Immediately launch a £24m planning skills delivery fund to clear backlogs and get the right skills in place.
– Establish a new “super-squad” team of leading planners and other experts tasked with working across the planning system to unlock major housing developments. The team will first be deployed to Cambridge to turbocharge our city plans.
Developers will also be asked to contribute more through fees, to help support a higher quality more efficient planning service.
The new flexibility to convert shops, takeaways and betting shops into houses will help renew the high street. On the other hand, red tape will be cut to enable barn conversions and repurposed agricultural buildings and disused warehouses.
New freedoms to extend homes, convert lofts and renovate new buildings will help convert existing properties into new accommodation. A review of the expansion of permitted development rights will make it easier for homeowners to build upwards and outwards – with new extensions and loft conversions – while ensuring that neighbours’ interests are protected.
This morning Kate Henderson, chief executive of National House Federation, told the Today program that these plans contained “nowhere near the level of ambition that we need to meet the housing needs of this country”. I will post more from his interview soon.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9:30 am: Michael Gove, the leveling up secretary, gave a speech on housing.
morning: Rishi Sunak visits the West Midlands.
11:30 am: Downing Street held a briefing in the lobby.
2:30pm: Charlotte Owen, the youngest person to be made a life peer, and Ben Houchen, the mayor of Tees Valley, were introduced as the new peers of the House of Lords.
If you want to contact me, try the “send us a message” feature. You’ll find it just below the byline – on the left of the screen, if you’re reading on a PC or laptop. This is for people who want to message me directly. I find it very useful when people message to point out mistakes (even typos – no mistake is too small to correct). I usually find your questions interesting too. I can’t promise to answer them all, but I’ll try to answer as many as I can, either in the comments below the line, privately (if you leave an email address and that seems more appropriate), or in the main blog, if I think it’s a topic of great interest.