Council have found a fan in Michael Gove - John McLellan

Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael GoveMinister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove
Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove
Who would have thought City of Edinburgh Council’s approach to housing would have found a supporter in UK Conservative housing secretary Michael Gove?

Remarkably, his brownfield-first, compulsory-purchase-if-necessary blueprint unveiled this week for England is very similar to the strategy outlined in Edinburgh’s 2030 City Plan.

And he has the same problem of not being able to deliver enough homes where people want them to be, because of the political need to avoiding putting them where they’re not wanted by existing residents.

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But before those in charge in the City Chambers get all smug, Labour is backing construction on the Green Belt, which no party supports here for the same reasons Mr Gove is avoiding it in the south.

And if Sir Keir Starmer thinks centrally-set housing targets are the answer, he need only visit Edinburgh to see how numbers set by Labour administrations without reference to reality aren’t worth a candle.

The only way round Green Belt development bans is again to follow the Edinburgh example, which is to tell people the open field they don’t want developed isn’t really Green Belt because the council says it isn’t.

Politicians talk about making hard choices, but that’s usually when they’ve run out of ideas for policies which won’t hit their own voters, and the golden rule is don’t make them near an election, and hope people forget. And again, the Edinburgh example can give all politicians hope; you can fail to get anywhere near your housing targets and people will still vote for you. Just don’t spoil their view.

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