Michael Gove

07 Sep 23

Landlords don’t believe Housing Secretary Michael Gove’s planning reforms will help build a million new homes in England, claims a buy-to-let broker.

In July Gove announced a review of permitted development rights in a bid to shake up planning rules, setting out plans to make it easier to convert large shops — such as takeaways and bookmakers — and offices into homes.  

Gove also said red tape could be cut to enable barn conversions.  The proposals to relax rules around the use of retail space are designed to provide greater density of housing in inner cities.

But a poll of 270 buy-to-let landlords conducted by Mortgages for Business found that only seven per cent thought the reforms would be successful.

When asked “Do you think Michael Gove’s proposed planning reforms will help the government build 1mn new homes in England by the end of the current parliament?” 59 per cent of landlords said they thought the results were “unlikely to scratch the surface”.

While only seven per cent thought that Gove’s review was likely to achieve a great deal, 15 per cent said the reforms could work “to a small degree, but not at scale”. 

Gavin Richardson, the managing director of MFB, says: “Britain needs more homes to fulfil more dreams of home ownership and increase choice for renters.  

“It’s great that these proposals mean that fewer empty shops or offices are left gathering dust while we have an urgent need for more homes.  But on their own, a review of the rules around permitted development rights is not going to achieve very much.  

“This is a small piece of a very large puzzle — on its own, there’s no way it is going to fix the housing crisis.”

In July, Gove also promised the creation of city development corporations with the power to buy up brownfield land and sell it on to housing developers.  His big-city building drive will involve ministers seizing control of brownfield areas to push through new projects.  

Gove said he was planning more than a dozen new development corporations that would be able to use compulsory purchase orders and grant planning permission to boost building in urban areas.

However, when asked if the country could tackle the housing crisis by building on brownfield sites alone, almost a quarter of landlords said they thought it was possible.  

Three times that many (76 per cent) thought the housing crisis could not be solved by building on brownfield sites alone.  

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