Gove’s latest announcement creates uncertainty and gives councils another excuse to pause local plans, says the Home Builders Federation 

Michael Gove’s announcement yesterday of another consultation on reforming local plans risks creating more uncertainty and hitting housing delivery further, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) has warned.

The housing secretary confirmed the government will propose ways of reforming local plans to make them “simpler, shorter and more visual”.

But the HBF pointed out the government has yet to publish its response to a previous consultation on changes to national planning policy.

It also pointed out the cross-party levelling up, housing and communities committee of MPs last week urged the government to publish its “final package of planning reforms” to give clarity to the industry.

gove speech july 2023

Michael Gove announcing the housing reforms yesterday in King’s Cross

An HBF spokesperson said: “As the select committee noted and has requested, the government hasn’t yet responded to the last consultation and is now seemingly launching another major one.

“In announcing yet another consultation on local plan reform not only is the secretary of state ignoring both the committee’s recommendation of a period for stability and a request for a government response to the December consultation, but it is also providing recalcitrant local planning authorities with another excuse not to progress local plans, which will exacerbate further the decline in home building across the country.”

>>See also: ‘Piecemeal’ and a lack of focus on social housing: sector responds to Michael Gove’s speech

>>See also: List of councils to have delayed plan-making since Gove’s targets U-turn

Uncertainty around the government’s proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework has been a factor in dozens of councils pausing their local plans.

The proposed measures include dropping the requirement to review green belt land in order to deliver a local area’s housing need, dropping the duty to co-operate between authorities to deliver housing targets, and the setting out of a whole raft of other reasons why authorities might be able to justify not meeting the housing numbers produced by the government’s “standard method” formula.

A report by the levelling up, housing and communities committee last week said: “The housing sector is hungry for clarity, consistency and certainty over the Government’s national planning policy. It is time for the government to present its final package of reforms to the National Planning Policy Framework, alongside its strategy to increase the rate of housebuilding through these measures.”