Conservatives 2013: Boles: 'shoot me if I'm still planning minister after election'

Nick Boles has told a Tory party conference fringe event to 'shoot me' if he is still planning minister after the next general election.

Planning minister Nick Boles at the event yesterday
Planning minister Nick Boles at the event yesterday

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Speaking at a fringe event on meeting housing needs at the Conservative Party conference, Boles responded to a question from Planning about Tory proposals for further planning reform after the next election.

He joked: "I'm going to answer it very simply. If I'm still planning minister after the next election, I want you to shoot me".

At the event, Boles questioned whether England's planning system is capable of producing well-designed schemes.

He said: "I'm slightly mystified that all the places we think of as the most beautiful places in England are places built before the planning system was ever invented. How great is the planning system at preserving or building new beautiful places?"

However, Boles went on to say that the quality of house-building was improving, thanks to construction industry design guidelines such as Building for Life.

Self-build could be the answer to meeting Britain's housing need, he said, given that large house builders could not meet the current demand, pointing out that self built schemes provide a large proportion of housing in many other countries.

Speaking about building more homes, Boles said that the government was treating it as a "national priority" and was on a "moral mission" to extend the "dream" of home ownership to the next generation.

He said: "If we are going to force people to live in small, pokey temporary places without green space or community facilities, where no thought has gone into planning or design, we are striking at the heart of what it means to have a good life".

Boles went on to say that, though local authorities could determine where and what was built, the role of central government was to make sure councils "build enough land and sites to meet their objectively-assessed need".

Also speaking at the same event, Stewart Baseley, chairman of the Home Builders Federation (HBF) said he thought the government's planning reforms were having a positive effect on the housing market.

He said: "The government has done a significant amount over the past couple of years, and it's beginning to work in a very effective way."

Baseley said the National Planning Policy Framework had created "a more positive approach to planning" among developers and communities, adding that planning permissions were 49 per cent higher than in 2012.

But he expressed concerns about the length of time from planning permission to construction "taking far too long" because of onerous pre-commencement planning conditions.

He also said he was worried about the "anti-business rhetoric" from last week's Labour conference, where leader Ed Miliband talked of clamping down on developers 'land-banking'.

For all of Planning’s 2013 conferences coverage click here. 

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