Friday, 20 May 2022


In his article in this week’s Cornish Guardian, MK leader Cllr Dick Cole commented on the UK Government’s proposed legislative programme. It is as follows:

Through the spectacle of the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday 10th May, the UK Government announced its legislative programme for the next parliamentary session. It includes a total of 38 bills and the key criticism from political opponents has been that not enough is being proposed to tackle the present cost of living crisis.

While I have not studied the full detail of many of the proposed bills, there are some elements to be welcomed, ranging from legislation to better combat modern slavery and to more effectively regulate social housing. There will also be a Renters Reform Bill and it is good that this will abolish “no fault” evictions, though I am not sure I can be supportive of all aspects of that particular legislation.

The element of the Speech that has been getting the greatest degree of discussion is the wide-ranging Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which covers the so-called “county deals” being considered in Cornwall and elsewhere, as well as reforms to the planning system.

The “devolution” proposals are still inadequate for the needs of Cornwall, but the supporting information published with the Bill is full of hyperbole about giving “local leaders and communities the tools they need to make better places,” providing opportunities to “increase innovation and enhance local accountability” while increasing the “transparency of local leaders.” The words do not match the reality of their timid and unexciting proposals.

In terms of planning, some of the extremely unpopular measures outlined in the 2020 “Planning for the Future” White Paper, such as the zoning of land for immediate “in principle” consents, have thankfully been ditched. But once again there are claims about changes giving “local communities control over what is built” in their area, but the reality will be very, very different.

The Government has confirmed that a revised, top-down, National Planning Policy Framework will be produced and there will be a consultation about a suite of “national” development management policies, that will have primacy over policies devised in Cornwall. This disturbs me.

The Bill will also include a discretionary council tax premium on second homes of up to 100%, which is being widely welcomed. But this does not go far enough. The “premium” is less than that to be charged in Wales, there is no proposal for planning controls to stop and reverse the spread of such part-time dwellings, while the document is also silent on the adverse impact of holiday lets and airbnbs on the housing market.

This is frankly so disappointing when so many people are struggling to secure a first home for rent or purchase.

No comments: