Michael Gove threatens to strip councils of their powers if they 'delay or deny' housebuilding in their areas

18 December 2023, 23:40 | Updated: 18 December 2023, 23:45

Levelling Up Secretary, Micheal Gove
Levelling Up Secretary, Micheal Gove. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Michael Gove will threaten to strip councils of their powers if they 'delay or deny' housebuilding in their areas 'without good reason'.

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The Levelling Up and Housing Secretary will announce new reforms to give local authorities three months to pull together plans that detail how they will meet the housing needs in their area.

Developments could be forced on areas that fail to do so, while councils could also lose their power to delay planning applications, The Times reports.

If a council fails to follow the new rules, they could be stripped of their planning powers entirely.

Leveling-up Secretary Michael Gove
Leveling-up Secretary Michael Gove. Picture: Getty

Despite some opposition, Mr Gove is also expected to announce that councils will retain the power to prevent new developments if they are expected to 'significantly alter the character of an area' or have an effect on the green belt.

The latter point signals a difference in policy on housing between the Tories and Labour, with Sir Keir Starmer previously pledging to review the rules on building on green belt land.

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Other changes that could be announced by Mr Gove when he speaks on Tuesday include a review by the government of London's existing housing plans.

There is expected to be pressure on the Mayor of London to increase the number of houses that are being built or, like councils across the country, face losing his planning powers.

Michael Gove speaks to LBC's political editor

Mr Gove has also recommitted the government to its pledge to build 300,000 homes a year.

Earlier in the year, Mr Gove defended the government's housebuilding record, despite a failure to meet this target, telling LBC: "We're not Mary Poppins, we're Bob the Builder".

It followed plans that were announced to relax planning rules in order to create more homes in city centres, such as Cambridge.