Boris Johnson to 'reform planning rules to boost home ownership in the North'

The Queen’s Speech will reportedly include a new planning bill aimed at boosting home ownership across the north and the Midlands.

The move is said to be part of a bid by the Tories to further strengthen their position in traditional Labour heartlands after election wins. last week.

Conservative leaders reportedly believe the number of people who owned their homes was key to the party’s gains.

Labour received a drubbing in some parts of the country, losing control of a host of councils and suffering defeat at the hands of Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in Hartlepool, with the North East constituency electing a Tory MP for the first time since 1959.

The party also lost control of Durham council for the first time in a century, saw its local leader deposed by the Greens in Sheffield and suffered large-scale seat losses in Rotherham and Sunderland.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles
The Queen’s Speech will be delivered on Tuesday

According to The Times, the planning bill is aimed at expanding the rates of home ownership across small cities and towns in areas which have historically voted Labour.

The reforms are said to simplify the planning process to make it more difficult for existing homeowners to block new housing schemes, with the country to be divided into “growth” or “protection” zones.

It is believed automatic planning approval will be given to homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices in growth areas, while development in protected areas will be restricted but not ruled out.

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The newspaper also reported the Government is set to trial a “first homes scheme” in the former Labour bastion of Bolsover, Derbyshire, where Dennis Skinner famously was the MP, which will give discounts of at least 30 per cent to first-time buyers in their local area.

A couple standing outside an estate agent's window
Labour called on a rescue plan for the NHS and a social care solution

Downing Street has signalled that the Queen’s Speech on May 11 – when the monarch sets out the Government’s legislative agenda – will place renewed emphasis on Mr Johnson’s ambitions to “level up”.

Officials said as well as supporting the nation’s recovery from Covid-19 and backing the NHS, the speech will include draft laws designed to “spread opportunity across the UK”.

Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The test of whether this Queen’s Speech genuinely delivers for the people of Britain is if it brings forward a proper rescue plan for the NHS and delivers a social care solution as Boris Johnson promised on the steps of Downing Street almost two years ago.”

Downing Street has confirmed its programme, due to be revealed during the State Opening of Parliament, will see the return of both the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and the Environment Bill, which they said will set legally binding environmental targets in the run-up to the international Cop26 summit in Glasgow later this year.

The former Bill was shelved during the last parliamentary session after it sparked violent protests in some places across the UK.

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If approved, it would hand greater power to police in England and Wales to shut down protests deemed overly noisy or disruptive, with those convicted liable to fines or jail terms.



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