Housing Minister keen to dispel ‘Myths’ about Government planning reforms

  08 SEPTEMBER, 2020
cover of white paper planning for future

Speaking at the CIH Housing 2020 Conference yesterday, Government Housing Minister Christopher Pincher spent time ‘myth busting’ the criticisms of his planning reforms.

Praise for Key Workers

At 1.30pm on Monday, virtual delegates eagerly awaited the live keynote session from Mr. Pincher, keen to learn what news and additional insights the Government were prepared to share on the Housing sector.

Before addressing the merits of the Government’s “Planning for the Future” white paper, the Minister took time to praise the people that “have shown resilience in face of the coronavirus emergency,” applauding doctors, nurses, teachers, and key workers of all descriptions.

There was praise too for social landlords and housing associations, and the housing and construction sectors who Mr. Pincher said had “stepped up” to embrace change to ensure the needs of the community were met.

Overhauling the current Planning System

“We are overhauling our antiquated planning system” said the Housing Minister of the “Planning for the Future” white paper published on 6th August 2020.

He outlined that the far-reaching reforms proposed in the 84-page document will make it “quicker, easier, and more affordable” than ever before to build homes by reducing burdens on house builders and developers.

The emphasis of the reforms will be centred around reducing “risks, delays, and costs”, and accelerating the planning process through digitisation of the process.

Read the Planning for the Future white paper on the Government website.

Busting the “3 myths”

As to be expected with any significant restructure to established legislation, there have been criticisms of the proposed reforms since publication.

The housing minister was keen to set the record straight in response to those criticisms, describing them as “baseless myths,” whilst he addressed each in turn.

1.      The changes will diminish local government decision making

New proposals set out by the white paper propose a zonal planning system that places land into 3 categories protected, renewal and growth.

Plans also remove current methods of developer contributions for affordable housing by replacing Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy payments with a new system that is based on a nationally fixed levy based on predicted market value once the project is completed.

Chrisopher Pincher dismissed the view that the changes would diminish local Government decision-making, arguing that they would actually “ensure real consultation with local communities from the very beginning of the planning process”.

He also stressed the importance of involving local communities in planning, making the process more strategic and proactive, rather than the costly reactionary behaviour of the past.

2.      The reforms sweep away environmental protection and undermine green belt

“We categorically are not weakening environmental protections,” Mr. Pincher affirmed to the watching virtual audience.

As part of this, local developers will be asked to commit to ‘green’ infrastructure in their projects. He cited such as examples as community orchards, green roofs, and tree lined streets as methods of integrating nature into urban design, replicating World leading examples such as the tree lined streets of Paris.

3.      Too much focus on the South of England, not enough on the North

The third and final myth identified by Mr Pincher was that changes to the way local housing need is assessed would benefit the South of England far more than the North, contrary to the government’s “levelling-up” agenda outlined in the Conservative election campaign back in 2019.

This levelling up agenda attempts to address the apparent inequality between areas of the North when compared to the South of England, underperforming and left-behind parts of the UK are provided with the means to reach parity.

An “increase in the number of homes being built across the whole country” will be realised in the longer term, said Mr. Pincher. There will also be a sharp focus on “delivering more homes in the least affordable areas.”

Housing 2020

Christopher Pincher’s keynote speech was just one of the highlights of the Housing 2020 conference taking place between 7th – 11th September.

Be sure to register for the event and check out some of the great speaker sessions that the event has to offer.



sign for horton lodge school


Novus were already working on a building refurbishment contract at Horton Lodge Special School in Rudyard, where 3 respite overnight bedrooms were in need of redecoration. Novus and supply partner Dulux were happy to donate materials to the cause.  Horton Lodge Community Special School Situated in the picturesque lakeside village of Rudyard in Staffordshire, lies Horton Lodge School. As a special school, it aims to "provide high-quality teaching and learning where children are challenged and every individual is valued." The school caters for children aged from 2 to 11 years with physical disabilities, with many of the pupils experiencing additional learning difficulties, complex communication needs, and visual and / or hearing impairments. As the Stoke Sentinel reported in September, Horton Lodge was one of five Staffordshire schools that stood to lose funding for children’s overnight stays from this term before the funding cuts were ultimately put on hold. The refurbishment contract Horton Lodge has a residential provision known as "Kiplings" so named due to its proximity to Lake Rudyard. Kiplings is designed and managed to provide a homely environment for the school's children and young people.  The provision is designed to help build independent living skills as children learn to feed and bathe themselves, read to each other, and take part in creative activities. As part of the works, 3 bedrooms within Kiplings were in desperate need of refurbishment and redecoration, as the windows tended to leak into the rooms causing damp damage to the flooring and skirting. Novus were awarded the contract to carry out the refurbishments on the school, these works included: Refitting windows and doors to bedrooms Replacing the carpets Roof repairs Boiler replacement Shower refurbishments When complete, the refurbishments were described as a "real boost" to the school by the Headteacher. Donation of materials At the time, Horton Lodge were asking for donations of paint and curtains to redecorate their bedrooms in time for the return of the children after the summer break. Novus sourced the curtains and window tracks from a local Staffordshire supplier and donated them for use in the bedrooms. Supply partners Dulux also kindly donated the paint required to redecorate the bedrooms, which equated to over 65 litres free of charge. The school caretaker then decorated the bedrooms himself. Chris Lear, Senior Quantity Surveyor at Novus Property Solutions said: "It was our pleasure to donate these materials to Horton Lodge, the work they do with young people here is inspirational and we hope the children enjoy their new bedrooms."


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