The Government’s planning reforms risk alienating Conservative voters

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
October 16, 2020, 10:53 AM UTC

Brits are generally in favour of building more homes – just not in their area – and this is especially true of Conservative voters

The Government’s new reforms which promise to ‘speed up and modernise the planning system and get the country building’ have angered 70 MPs, including former Prime Minister Theresa May. YouGov data shows that the MPs are right to fear voter backlash.

Most people (57%) want the government to build large numbers of homes on a national level – however, significantly fewer (40%) support this happening in their own local area. Among Conservative voters the figure is even lower at 32%.

A large majority of the public (71%) also back building a moderate number of homes on a national level, but not as many (54%) would like them in their own area. 

Rather, most people (60%) are supportive of a small number of homes being developed where they live but are less likely to be satisfied with this nationally (50%). Only a small minority (9%) would support the Government stopping any new homes from being built, but one in six (17%) would happily accept this where they live.

Local councils have accused the Government of deepening the north-south divide with its controversial algorithm which will determine how many homes to develop in each area.

Three in five people in the South (59%) are against a large number of homes being built locally – the highest level of opposition in any region. They are the most likely to see a big influx of new developments as a result of the changes.

At 43%, Northerners are among the least opposed, but many of their local areas are likely to miss out on new homes.

Brits actually want a more restrictive planning system

The Government says its reforms aim to ‘cut red tape’. But many people would prefer a stricter planning system: over a third (35%) say it’s not restrictive enough and it should be easier for local politicians or members of the public to block developments.

A fifth (19%) think the balance between allowing needed developments and blocking damaging projects is about right. Only 18% of Brits believe the system is too restrictive and makes it too easy to block developments.

Conservative voters (43%) are the most likely to believe that the planning system needs to be stricter, compared with a third of Labour voters (34%). And again, regionally Southerners (42%) are the most in favour of a more stringent system. 

There is also a divide among Remainers (34%) and Leavers (44%).

See the full results here and here