Report comes ahead of first speech by new housing secretary, as fellow cabinet minister says party ‘looking again’ at proposals

The new housing secretary Michael Gove is reported to have ordered a “complete rethink” of the government’s planning reform proposals, in advance of his first major speech in the role later today.

The report came as Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden used his speech to its conference in Manchester yesterday to spell out that the party is “looking again at our planning reforms”.

The Times reported that Gove’s rethink of the reforms in last year’s Planning White Paper included ditching proposals to limit councils’ powers to stop new developments in their areas.

michael gove

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Housing secretary Michael Gove is believed to be looking again at how to reform the UK’s planning laws

The paper also said he wanted to “make housing companies pay more to local communities to improve amenities in areas where development takes place”, albeit the white paper’s Infrastructure Levy proposal was already designed to gather as much or more in developer contributions as are already captured in the current system.

It has already been reported that Gove planned to pause the controversial reforms - which had been widely blamed for the Party’s shock defeat in the Chesham and Amersham by-election.

Dowden (pictured left) said the Party had “the wisdom to listen to people and the humility to learn how we can do better. That’s why we are looking again at our planning reforms.”

The Planning White Paper published last August had proposed introducing “area-based” planning in which councils would be forced to allocate “growth areas” in which outline planning consent was conferred via local plans.

The paper also proposed ditching the section 106 system and replacing it with a nationally set Infrastructure Levy and impose mandatory centrally set housing targets on local authorities.

Dowden also said the government would now look to “set out in law measures to protect our towns, villages and precious countryside from being despoiled by ugly development”, advising conference-goers to “watch this space”.