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‘Muscular’ Pickles pleases MPs on green belt

6 September 2012

6 September 2012

Eric Pickles delivered his statement on housebuilding with the adoring gaze of new planning minister Nick Boles fixed on him throughout. Boles was leaning forward eagerly, drinking in every word the Communities Secretary had to say about today’s announcement. Sitting next to him on the front bench, Don Foster, who also joined the department this week as an impressively-like-for-like replacement of Andrew Stunell, barely looked up at all from his Blackberry.

MPs raised a little cheer when Pickles responded to questions from Labour about the future of the green belt. ‘I can confirm that we will protect the green belt in line with that commitment in the coalition agreement,’ he said. He explained that the government would support councils who chose to use their existing freedoms to swap green belt land around, as the Chancellor did at the weekend. Labour, he argued, ‘represented the heavy hand of centralism’. He then spread out his arms and pushed his torso forward, announcing ‘I represent muscular localism’. MPs hooted. Boles went pink with pride at his new boss. Foster continued to jab and frown at his Blackberry. Pickles cracked plenty of other jokes along the way, causing Lib Dem backbench housing spokeswoman Annette Brooke to roll her eyes with mock despair when he told her that the result of allowing developers to bypass section 106 agreements that they felt rendered a development unviable would be ‘a touch of realism’.

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The Secretary of State was in a good mood this afternoon, clearly happy he could stand up in the Chamber and tickle the tummies of MPs by saying he was protecting the green belt. But Policy Exchange – Nick Boles’ old haunt – is warning that 2012 will have the second lowest annual level of new homes since the Second World War. Although today’s announcement is as much about using housebuilding to stimulate growth as it is about increasing the supply of new homes, if that supply continues on the downward trajectory plotted in the graph below, the new planning minister may start showing off how very muscular he is on planning policy, too.


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  • Wessex Man

    The over inflated windbag at it again, I well remember him bellowing that every “Englishman’s house is his Castle”- “I will not allow Councils to extend fortnightly rubbish collections”- Question Time “you (the general public) don’t understand how hard we wiork and that we must have houses in London we may work late!”
    I well remember trying to communicate with him when my Council were getting young schoolgirls to vote on fortnightly rubbish collections, one of them my niece aged 12 and still only getting less than 5% of the population involved, Pickles proclaimed that the people had spoken and agreed to do away with weekly collections.
    He is a nightmare and it shows the calibre of Cameron that he has kept him in place.

  • 2trueblue

    Developers have lots of land which they have planning permission for, so why is it such an issue to grant more? Give a time limit on how long they can hold it for without not using it, ‘build or lose it’ would speed it up. The issue is to get the building industry going and granting more planning permission is not a going to provide that. The market is stagnant and I fail to see how this will change it. What would help is to stop making it so attractive tax-wise for the ‘buy to let’ participants. It keeps this part of the market too competitive for first time buyers. Unless this part of the market moves stagnation is a given.

  • Dogsnob

    I like this latest scheme to make it easier to get planning permission to extend to the rear of houses. Is this though, economic development by the back door?

  • Frank P

    “Eric Pickles delivered his statement on housebuilding with the adoring
    gaze of new planning minister Nick Boles fixed on him throughout.”

    Lust my dear Issy. Sheer lust! Probably fantasying about being seen to by a big butch cuddly Minister for Communities and Local Government. “Ooo, I could house that, Mr Pickles!”

  • david

    I’m looking at Pickles and I must say, ‘muscular’ is not what I see.

    • Daniel Maris

      Porcine is the word you are looking for. With perhaps overlarded as in “overlarded porcine politician” .

      Remember Pickles is the man who introduced probably the most complicated local planning system in the world in his first big Bill.

  • In2minds

    More house, would fewer immigrants help?

  • http://www.coffeehousewall.co.uk/ Coffeehousewall

    Isabel can you perhaps explain why we need more houses when the population growth of indigenous British people is very low?

  • Alexsandr

    please. why doesn’t someone explore the urban myth we need more houses? People cant sell the ones they have. Ok we need loads of public housing for immigrants….

  • Alexsandr

    please. why doesn’t someone explore the urban myth we need more houses? People cant sell the ones they have. Ok we need loads of public housing for immigrants….

    • Publius

      Why? Because:

      a) Miss Hardman isn’t interested in what we say. She probably doesn’t even read any of it.
      b) The government isn’t interested in what Miss Hardman says or thinks.
      c) The whole thing is about spin. It doesn’t matter what the reality is.

      • Michael990

        Anyone remember that old Fast Show sketch where the woman is totally ignored but her ideas are used by the men. It’s like that in reverse. She and her associates simply do not listen. Why? Because they know they have no sane counter arguments.

        • Daniel Maris

          I think you may be right.

          I banged on for ages about how mass immigration has been reducing per capita GDP and slashing any GDP growth going.

          Did that ever get picked up by any Spectator writer? No. They all carried on with their expert analysis of the economy as though importing 500,000 people every year has no effect on per capita GDP.

          Only when the ONS finally admitted that mass immigration was reducing per capita GDP did this issue finally get aired in an official article.

          A lesson there perhaps for the writers. Perhaps they should take seriously the comments here. Many of us have our ear to the ground.

  • p45 ex housing boss

    News Night dig is something which you could expand upon!! Whch former Labuor said we should remove state subsidy from housing? I love the insight you have offerd well done

  • p45 ex housing boss

    News Night dig is something which you could expand upon!! Whch former Labuor said we should remove state subsidy from housing? I love the insight you have offerd well done

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