POLITICS
Backlash forces ministers to soften Planning Bill impact

Proposals to overhaul planning laws are expected to be watered down by ministers following a ferocious backlash, according to reports.

Rebel Tory MPs have spent months pressuring the Government to ditch what they consider to be “electorally toxic” reforms designed to lift the number of new homes being built every year to 300,000 by the middle of this decade.

The Planning Bill, due in the autumn, would see the country split into at least two zones marked for protection or growth.

In areas marked for development, critics say existing homeowners will find it harder to object to new builds.

There were also plans for councils to be ordered to build a set number of homes each year and be sanctioned if they failed.

On Friday night, The Times reported that ministers are set to abandon the most contentious parts of the planning shake-up.

Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, will instead announce a more limited set of changes, no longer including the zonal planning system and mandatory house-building targets, the report said.

As a compromise, it is claimed councils could be asked to designate “growth sites” where there is a presumption in favour of development and planning applications will be fast-tracked.

As many as 100 Tory MPs had been expected to join forces with opposition MPs to fight plans in a White Paper to radically increase house building across England.

The revolt was fuelled by the Tories’ disastrous defeat in the Chesham and Amersham by-election, which saw a significant number of voters switch to the Liberal Democrats in part due to the proposed planning reforms.

Mr Jenrick has previously said people have a “duty” to the next generation to allow more homes to be built.

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

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