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Michael Gove to review planning reforms and discuss them with Tory critics

·2-min read
Michael Gove is the new Housing Secretary (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)
Michael Gove is the new Housing Secretary (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

New Housing Secretary Michael Gove is expected to pause the Government’s overhaul of the planning system in order to consult with critics on the Tory backbenches.

Senior Conservatives including former prime minister Theresa May have criticised the proposals, which are designed to boost building to help hit the target of 300,000 new homes a year in England.

MPs had partly blamed the plans widely seen as watering down local oversight of planning proposals for the defeat in the Chesham and Amersham by-election to the Liberal Democrats in June.

After succeeding Robert Jenrick as Housing Secretary during Wednesday’s reshuffle, Mr Gove is expected to review the proposals.

It is understood Mr Gove will consult with colleagues as well as industry figures during the rethink.

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said the “developers charter”, as it is dubbed by Labour, should be “scrapped altogether”.

“These reforms will pay back developers by selling out communities and gagging residents from having a say over development in their area,” he said.

News of the review emerged as the Housing Secretary faced calls to return £100,000 of donations he recently received from a property developer.

The MPs’ register of financial interests shows Mr Gove accepted two donations of £50,000 on August 6 from Zachariasz Gertler.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said: “Conservative planning reforms are already handing more powers to developers, and now it seems the new Housing Secretary is accepting donations from them too.

“To avoid any conflict of interest, Michael Gove must return this money.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has defended the donations.

A spokesman said: “All donations made to the Secretary of State have been declared publicly and the proper process followed.

“The department has robust processes in place to ensure any potential conflicts of interest are managed appropriately.”

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