Michael Gove defends ‘street elections’ plan to give neighbors veto power

Michael Gove said a government plan to give neighbors the right to veto housing in their area will help build support for new developments.

The Cabinet minister defended the watering down of housing plans in the Top Up and Renewal Bill – and suggested the so-called “street voting” move will boost much-needed new housing supply.

Mr Gove said “local democratic elections, sometimes street by street”, would help improve the quality of homes – and allow residents to become “partners” in building projects.

The Leveling Up Secretary admitted the government would not meet its target of building 300,000 new homes this year – but claimed changes to plans would result in more development.

“Communities have understandably resisted this because new buildings were not beautiful, they were not built to the required quality,” he told BBC Radio 4 today Program.

The minister said people are “resistant to development” because the environment has not been protected and authorities are too often driven by arbitrary figures.

Mr Gove added: “People should be partners when it comes to housing. We will do whatever it takes to ensure more of the right homes are built in the right ways, in the right places.”

“I think it’s critically important that as we try to improve the housing supply, you also try to build communities that people love and are proud of.”

According to the government’s plan for the law, people could be given the right to vote on proposed property expansions and new homes.

The times reported that residents will be allowed to hold referendums on the style and size of extensions, conversions and new homes on their street, and to decide whether more conservatories can be built without full planning permission.

Labor MP Clive Betts, chair of the Housing Committee, said the “street elections” plan was a gimmick, arguing that residents were not able to “decide absolutely everything” about building in their area.

The government has dropped previous proposals that would have made it more difficult to block housing development after Tory MPs worried about voters in green constituencies in the county.

There was a plan to introduce a zoning system in which councils would be expected to identify “growth areas” for housing where planning restrictions would have been relaxed.

Former Tory Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who proposed the zoning system, warned the Government would fall “by a country mile” short of its election promise of 300,000 homes a year.

Mr Jenrick expressed concern that the number of homes built in Boris Johnson’s first year in office will be the “high water mark” for “several years to come”.

“It is of paramount importance to this country that we build more homes. Subsequent governments have failed to do so. There’s always an excuse,” he told the Commons.

Mr Gove responded to the criticism on Wednesday, telling the BBC: “It’s not a success simply getting there if the houses are shabby, in the wrong place, don’t have the infrastructure needed and don’t contribute to beautiful communities. ”

He said he didn’t want to be “tied to a Procrustean bed” — a reference to the Greek myth of Procrustes, who tortured people to fit in a single bed.

Meanwhile, the Department of Leveling Secretary has recommitted to reforming tenants’ rights by abolishing no-fault evictions after several years of promising to take action.

Mr Gove also highlighted further protections for tenants, which were among the measures his department had taken to tackle the cost of living crisis. Michael Gove defends ‘street elections’ plan to give neighbors veto power

Bobby Allyn

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