Housing secretary Jenrick hails 'biggest affordable housing investment in a decade'

The government's latest move to boost the supply of affordable homes and a possible exemption for London from proposed changes to the standard housing need method feature in today's media round-up.

The government has announced what housing secretary Robert Jenrick called “the highest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade” with a £12.2 billion package of measures, including support for a new shared ownership model requiring buyers to acquire an initial share in a property of just 10 per cent, the BBC News website says. Of a further £700 million, previously earmarked in the Budget for new homes, “about half” will be for affordable home ownership, the rest for discounted rent, including 10 per cent for supported housing for those with physical or mental health challenges, the BBC says.

Meanwhile The Times reported on Saturday that the near-trebling of housing targets in London under the proposed new standard housing need method could lead to the capital being exempted from the approach altogether - an idea which the Prime Minister had reportedly floated in a Zoom call with ministers and other MPs. But the paper said “any concession for London will increase calls from those who represent the shires to be given a similar exemption”. “The feedback from Tory MPs across the country is overwhelmingly negative,” The Times reported one MP as saying. “It feels inevitable we will get a U-turn on this.”

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick faces “a backlash from local Tories” over the government’s proposed planning reforms, John McTernan, political strategist and former Prime Minister Tony Blair's director of political operations, writes in The Article. “When Tory MPs discover that neither they nor their local councillors can influence development proposals – because their own Prime Minister has nationalised planning and removed local discretion through ‘zoning’ – we may see a revolt in the shires, perhaps on the scale of the Countryside Alliance mobilisation against Tony Blair’s foxhunting ban,” he predicts.

Campaigners have gained a judicial review, due in the High Court today, of a decision to permit the felling of a woodland to accommodate expansion of the Sizewell nuclear power station, the East Anglian Daily Times reports. East Suffolk Council had allowed Coronation Wood to be cleared as part of preparations to build the Sizewell C plant, subject to a separate permission yet to be decided on, within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Together Against Sizewell C group had claimed the council’s granting of planning permission was premature and had been taken without an adequate environmental impact assessment. The council said it “will be defending its decision”.

The government has missed its own deadline to rule on a called-in proposal for a £271 million mixed-use revamp of Norwich’s Anglia Square shopping centre, the Eastern Daily Press reports. Housing secretary Robert Jenrick had until yesterday to decide on what it calls “one of the most contentious – and largest – developments in Norwich for decades”. A letter from the decision officer said the Ministry “will endeavour to minimise the delay as much as possible”. The plans, including more than 1,200 new homes, a 20-storey tower, a hotel, cinema, car parks and new shops, were narrowly approved by the city council in 2018, but objections from Historic England and other bodies led to the government calling the scheme in.

Glasgow City Council, Scotland’s biggest local authority, is considering introducing fees for pre-application planning advice for the first time, according to the Glasgow Herald. The council says charging for advice will bring it into line with the practice at a growing number - currently thought to be 12 - of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, including Edinburgh. The charges, which would vary according to the complexity of the project, will be voted on next week, the council said.

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