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Government ‘out of touch’ with own MPs on new planning system and must rethink

Thatched houses on estate at Augustan Avenue, Shillingstone, is an example of an estate in Dorset that appears well designed and vernacular in style Thatched houses on estate at Augustan Avenue, Shillingstone, is an example of an estate in Dorset that appears well designed and vernacular in style © Rupert Hardy

22nd November 2020

MP Polling: 55% Conservative backbenchers considering opposing the government’s upheaval of the planning system

National CPRE has undertaken new research with Conservative MPs and the results are clear: changes to the proposed algorithm are promising, but would still leave the government at odds with its own MPs on its plans to dismantle the planning system.

More than half of Conservative MPs (55%) on the backbenches are considering opposing the government’s upheaval of the planning system as set out in the Planning White Paper, according to new research from Savanta ComRes, which was commissioned by National CPRE. The government has indicated that it is in the process of re-thinking the housing algorithm element of the planning proposals, which is welcome. But today’s research shows that Conservative MPs have concerns with other key elements of the government’s changes to planning.

While the damaging changes to planning would hand more power to developers, over three quarters (78%) of backbench Conservative MPs surveyed think large housebuilders will not provide good quality, well designed development unless they are kept under rigorous scrutiny to deliver the homes and spaces communities need.


The survey, conducted by Savanta ComRes, quizzed 40 backbench Conservative MPs with constituencies in England (17% of total) on their opinions of the government’s changes to the planning system and what impacts they would have on local democracy, locally valued green spaces and countryside, action to tackle the climate emergency and the delivery of quality affordable homes.

Key findings

The proposals have already faced fierce opposition from local councillors, local communities, MPs, former Cabinet Ministers and even the former Prime Minister Theresa May MP. Today's results continue that trend finding that:

Peter Bowyer, Dorset CPRE Chair of Trustees, said:
"The Dorset Local Plan represents an opportunity for Dorset Council to develop a Local Plan that meets local needs . The imposition of housing targets by central government is unacceptable and will cause damage to the environment, the Dorset brand, and tourism. The residents of Dorset should be given the ability to create a vision for Dorset instead of having the government at Westminster impose inappropriate development that can destroy the precious natural assets of the county."

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said:

‘It’s clear the government needs to get back in touch with its own MPs. In the face of a national lockdown, protecting and enhancing countryside and green space close to where people live has never been more important. From Cornwall to Carlisle, MPs, local councillors, communities and CPRE groups are raising the alarm and the message is clear – dismantling the planning system will not deliver thriving countryside communities, more homes people can afford to live in and greater access to green space.

‘However, it is encouraging to see Ministers are in listening mode and we urge them to go beyond quick fix changes to the housing algorithm, to make sure that people, nature and the countryside are at the heart of the planning system. To avoid pitting local communities and MPs against the government, we must cement the voice of local people in these planning proposals, protect and enhance local green space and ensure that the duty for developers to build social homes is upheld.

‘In the face of grave challenges, we’re calling on Ministers to take this opportunity to review key elements of the planning proposals, learn the lessons of lockdown and deliver the homes and places that support healthy, vibrant communities.’

The MPs surveyed clearly see an important role for local democracy and accountability in the planning system calling into question the government's damaging changes to planning. CPRE, is campaigning for a democratic, locally-led planning system that will deliver genuinely affordable homes, tackle the climate and nature emergencies while providing more access to green space for everyone.

For the full set of results please visit CPRE’s website here:



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