IEA expert responds to Michael Gove’s housing plans

Commenting on the government’s U-turn on planning reform, Dr Kristian Niemietz, Head of Political Economy at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Michael Gove’s announcements to put the government’s planning reforms on hold are just the latest manifestation of the Iron Law of British politics: in the end, the NIMBYs always win. 

“The reason why the government is U-turning yet again on this issue is not that there was anything wrong with the original planning reform proposals. It’s simply because MPs in areas of high housing demand have come under pressure from local residents opposed to housing development, and the government has immediately caved in to that pressure.  

“The main aim of the planning reforms, as they originally stood, was to move from a system of case-by-case decisions to a more rules-based system, under which planning applications would not be unreasonably refused as long as you follow a set of general rules. This is eminently sensible, because the problem with the current case-by-case system is that it gives small numbers of time-rich obstructionists a veto over housebuilding. The planning reform proposals would have curbed that veto power.  

“Caving in to NIMBY pressure is always politically easier, but it is also incredibly short-termist – not least from the governing party’s own perspective. As the IEA’s polling shows, 80 per cent of millennials blame the housing crisis on “capitalism”.

“This is how the housing crisis drives the younger generations ever further to the Left. By continuing to block housebuilding, this Conservative government is doing more to entrench socialist attitudes among the young than Jeremy Corbyn ever could.” 


Notes to editors

Contact: Emily Carver, Head of Media, 07715942731

IEA spokespeople are available for interview and further comment.