Robert Jenrick denies hypocrisy over new planning reform

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has defended a previous controversial planning decision, after criticism surrounding it resurfaced as the government announced a new planning overhaul.

Sweeping reforms to the planning system aim to cut red tape and speed up house building, while also protecting green spaces and making it easier to build on brownfield sites.

Speaking with talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer, the Cabinet minister said another element of the plan was to ask land owners and developers to pay more with a “higher and simpler” infrastructure levy.

“It will be a certain, predictable system, no wrangling, no developers or land owners will be able to wriggle out of their obligation to support the local community,” he said.

But Julia pressed Mr Jenrick over whether this approach was “hypocritical”, given the bias allegations against him in June.

The Newark MP was accused of helping multi-millionaire Conservative Party donor Richard Desmond avoid an extra £45 million in taxes by approving an east London development  before a new levy was introduced.

Mr Jenrick said those allegations were a “complete misrepresentation” of how the situation played out.

“I supported the proposals because it enabled 1,500 homes to be built, hundreds of affordable homes and a new school to be built…It’s a very longstanding principle in law that the Secretary of State should make a decision before there’s a material change in circumstances that might make the project unviable.

“If the project becomes unviable then there are no homes, affordable homes, schools and community benefits.” 

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