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Boris executes U-turn over controversial house building algorithm

Government says it has listened to the MPs whose rural constituencies would have seen 'rapid urbanisation' if the algorithm had been used.

Nigel Lewis

boris johnson house building

The government has executed a policy U-torn after it was revealed over the weekend that Boris Johnson’s flagship planning reform is to be retooled following a threatened rebellion by Conservative MPs, including Theresa May.

Launched in July by Boris Johnson, the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ changes to the planning system were heralded as a clean break from the past and radical departure from accepted norms. A consultation on the house building quota proposals closed on 29th October,

It included allowing properties to switch usage more easily, enabling property owners to add storeys without the need for a lengthy planning processes and a shake up in the way brownfield sites can be used.

But it is the planning quota algorithm that has tripped up the government.

Rural uproar

It was to be used by officials to set targets for house building but, campaigners argued, its bias would lead to a huge increase in house building within rural areas particularly in many Conservative heartland constituencies.

After dozens of fellow MPs voiced their concerns about the algorithm, the government has now ‘rebalanced’ it to appease them. It will now prioritise quotas in urban areas, The Telegraph has claimed.

This has been expected for some time – a month ago Ministry of Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said he was looking at the algorithm, although MPs have been urging the government to change direction since the end of September.

A Ministry spokesperson told the Telegraph: “The Prime Minister and the Housing Secretary have been listening to Conservative colleagues.

“We are working on a fairer formula, which still meets our housing targets but is rebalanced so that more homes are built in urban areas, particularly in the Midlands and the North.”

November 16, 2020

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