By Gordon Rayner and Harry Yorke
“Radical planning reforms that would have put extra powers in the hands of Robert Jenrich have been put on hold amid the lobbying controversy surrounding the Housing Secretary.
“The Daily Telegraph understands that the Government was considering moving responsibility for some major developments from councils to the Housing Secretary [Homes England’s £3bn West Ifield development from Horsham District Council ? – Ed].
“Ministers believed the Prime Minister would include the proposals in a white paper later this year, and had expected him to reference them in a major speech next week on rebuilding Britain after the coronavirus downturn.
“However, after days of revelations about Mr Jenrick’s relationship with the property developer and Tory donor Richard Desmond, No. 10 said the proposals would not be in the speech and are ‘not our policy’.
“Downing Street denied last night [June 25 2020 – Ed] that there was any link between the Desmond controversy and the decision not to take the proposals forward.
“Multiple sources told The Daily Telegraph that government planning advisers had advocated a system of development corporations, which would be set up by the Housing Secretary, and would have the power to take decisions on planning that would normally be taken by local authorities.
“The development corporations would be able to buy land with taxpayers’ money, grant planning permission to build on it, then sell the land to developers at a profit. All money raised would be used for public benefits by building schools, roads or other infrastructure. The development corporations would also have control over what developers could and could not build. It would have given the Housing Secretary huge power because it effectively bypasses councils. However, No. 10 sources said it would not happen.
“Boris Johnson had also studied plans to make it easier for the Government to redesignate green belt land for development. Building on greenbelt could help the Prime Minister hit his target of 300,000 new homes a year, but moves to allow building on green belt have proved unpopular with grassroots Tories, and Downing Street said this, too, was now ‘not policy’ and would not be in his speech.
“A Downing Street source denied the proposals had been considered by No. 10 and said: ‘These claims are untrue'”
LETTER SUBMISSIONS – JUNE 27 2020
Boris Johnson’s “system of development corporations” look much like the development corporations of post-war Britain set up in 1947 [“Planning reforms out of Jenrick’s hands”, DT, 26 June); the only difference being, then, they were to meet the housing needs of bombed-out Londoners – not ‘line the pockets’ of developers.
Richard W. Symonds
Such radical reforms were always in the hands of the government’s Chief Strategic Adviser – and former Homes England Chairman – Sir Edward Lister [“Planning reforms out of Jenrick’s hands”, DT, 26 June]; the Housing Secretary’s job was simply to implement these reforms.
Richard W. Symonds
Is the £1bn influence-peddling of government housing minister Robert Jenrick at Westferry drawing fire away from the £3bn influence-peddling of government chief strategic adviser Sir Edward Lister at West Ifield ?
Richard W. Symonds
1. ESTATES GAZETTE INTELLIGENCE 1 – JANUARY 23 2017
“SIR EDWARD LISTER [HOMES & COMMUNITIES AGENCY – HOMES ENGLAND]: ‘UNWILLING COUNCILS WILL NOT RECEIVE GRANT FUNDING’”
2. ESTATES GAZETTE INTELLIGENCE 2 – JULY 29 2019
3. IFIELD SOCIETY
SIR EDWARD LISTER RESIGNS AS CHAIRMAN OF HOMES ENGLAND TO TAKE UP GOVERNMENT ADVISER ROLE – AUGUST 2019
4. SIR EDWARD LISTER AND THE WESTFERRY DEVELOPMENT – JUNE 26 2020
7. DAILY MAIL
8. WHAT THE PAPERS SAY – BBC – JUNE 25 2020
The newly-released private messages relating to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick’s approval of a Tory donor’s housing scheme is the lead story for several of Thursday’s papers.
“Cosy texts that damn minister”, is the Daily Mail’s headline.
On the inside pages, the paper’s commentator, Stephen Glover, says that while there appears to be no evidence of any outright corruption, there’s much to suggest that the minister has been careless and high-handed when it comes to following rules.
By his own account, he behaved “unlawfully”, the writer goes on. Isn’t that reason enough to go? he asks.
The Times quotes a government source as suggesting that the housing secretary should spare the prime minister embarrassment by quitting. “In this scenario, normally a cabinet minister would have the duty to resign”, the source tells the paper.
In the words of the i newspaper Mr Jenrick is “on the ropes”. It says he had hoped that by publishing all correspondence, he would be drawing a line under the issue. Instead, the paper adds, it has left him fighting for his career.
For its main story, the Daily Telegraph reports that social distancing won’t be applied in schools in England – so that all pupils can return full-time in September.