House Plan: How much is Michael Gove’s new strategy?

  • Written by Anthony Rubin and Lucy Gilder
  • BBC News

Settlement Minister Michael Gove gave a speech on Monday about the government’s plans to build houses in England.

But it wasn’t all new.

Converting shops into homes

Facilitating the conversion of stores into homes was part of Mr Goff’s plan to increase the availability of homes in cities.

However, the previous law – which was introduced in England in 2015 – meant that some properties could already be converted without planning permission.

The majority of real estate has been changed from offices to residences (8,359) and from agricultural buildings (591). Others changed from storage and industrial places.

The government is now planning to launch a new advisory on allowing commercial premises – such as a shop or takeaway – to be converted into residential accommodation.

However, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced similar plans in 2020. There was also a consultation on supporting housing handovers in 2021, which looked at creating new permitted development rights.

housing goals

This will be in December 2024 – five years since the current parliament first convened. The pledge was originally made in the 2019 Conservative Manifesto – a set of promises made by political parties ahead of the election.

How is the government?

Between 2019 and 2022 (latest data available), an additional 687,390 homes were built in England.

This means – in order to meet the million target – more than 300,000 homes will have to be built in the next year and a half.

From 2021-2222, approximately 233,000 additional homes were built. This includes converted properties as well as new builds.

The government also has a second target – to build 300,000 homes annually by the mid-2020s. However, this was not met.

Set up the office for the location

Another of Mr Goff’s proposals was creating an “office of place”.

Described as a ‘new body’, the office will ensure that the residences are designed to a high standard. It will also give local communities a say in how they view new developments.

The government press release said the venue office “will open today”.

However, this may come as a surprise to former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who gave a speech two years ago on July 20, 2021 launching Office for Place.

What has really changed is that the venue office has shifted from being a small team within Mr. Goff’s department to a legal body at arm’s length.

‘New’ funding of £24m

The government says the money will be used to speed up housing development and improve planning capacity.

But only half of the £24m is new funding. The government told the BBC that while £12m is new funding earmarked for the administration, the other half will come from its existing budget.

Cambridge development

A great deal of Mr. Goff’s speech was thrown upon plans for large numbers of new homes and laboratories in Cambridge.

He announced the creation of the Cambridge Delivery Group to work out how to do this – although only £5m was set aside to get the business going.

These plans are new, although there was significant local opposition in newspaper reports prior to the announcement.

The government’s Leveling Up White paper released in February 2022 talked about how research funding would be concentrated in Oxford, Cambridge and the South East of England.

The same document also spoke of the city’s £500m deal with Greater Cambridge, investment in infrastructure, housing and skills.

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