Government white paper on housing leaves many stones unturned

The ‘Planning for the Future’ white paper released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government (MHCLG) on August 6th has been met by a powerful wave of opposition, not only from critics of Boris Johnson’s policies but also from the PM’s own Conservative allies.

The government claims the new approach will increase the pace of housebuilding in England, creating a ‘clearer, rules-based system’ that will enable developments to be completed in a ‘more timely way’ and give young people a better chance of getting a foothold on the housing ladder. The plans include a new national charge for developers designed to contribute to the provision of affordable housing, as well as schools, roads and other infrastructure projects.

However, opponents have accused the government of jettisoning democratic oversight over new developments in the country, setting weak environmental targets, and, most importantly, ignoring the real issues behind the housing crisis. Johnson posits that the simplified infrastructure levy will raise the funds necessary to build ‘a much bigger chunk of affordable housing’. Critics doubt the likelihood of this outcome, arguing that it takes the initiative away from councils and communities, relying instead on developers’ own interpretation of the guidance. The Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, has gone so far as to dub it a ‘developers’ charter’.

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