What Gove's latest speech on homebuilding means for self builders and renovators

Michael Gove giving a speech in London
Michael Gove announced in a speech last week his plans to ramp up homebuilding by targeting brownfield development, renovating existing building and removing planning barriers (Image credit: Getty)

Michael Gove has announced new permitted development rights as well as measures to make it easier to develop existing buildings in cities and brownfield sites.

In a speech last week Gove announced '10 principles' to help tackle the UK's housing crisis, with a key focus on building in brownfield sites and extending permitted development rights. 

These changes could be good news for those looking at renovating or building a house and we explain exactly what the Secretary of State's plans involve and how they can affect your project.

Millions handed out to encourage urban building

Michael Gove outlined his plans to focus on homebuilding in cities to help tackle housing shortages.

On the 24th July the government allocated £800 million of the £1.5 billion Brownfield, Infrastructure and Land fund help build 56,000 new homes on brownfield sites, and focus on infrastructure on urban rather than rural areas.

It was also announced that Homes England was being given £550 million, as well as £150 million to Greater Manchester and £100 million to the West Midlands to help encourage homebuilding in densely populated areas.

Gove stated: "We are unequivocally, unapologetically and intensively concentrating our biggest efforts in the hearts of our cities. Because that is the right thing to do economically, environmentally and culturally."

He claims "cities are where the demand for housing is greatest," which is why he is focusing on enabling "brownfield development rather than green belt erosion".

Gove also highlighted the new Infrastructure Levy the government is attempting to pass through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which plans to raise funds for local infrastructures, facilities and services to serve the growing population in these areas. 

Permitted development rights to be extended for homeowners

As well as building new homes, making use of existing buildings forms a large part of the Secretary of State's plans to provide more housing.

Gove announced plans to extend Permitted Development Rights to allow existing homeowners to make it easier when renovating a house or converting a building.

He claims this will "support more upward construction" of homes, which could be good news for those looking to extend their property as planning permission would no longer be required to complete some extensions on homes.

Promise to overhaul problems with planning system

A large problem for housebuilders has been planning system hurdles, which Gove acknowledged in his speech.

He announced he will be introducing "reforms to the planning system," which "will speed up new developments" and "put power in the hands of local communities to build their own homes".

Gove stated he will be providing £24 million to scale up local planning capacity to process planning applications faster. This could incentivise those looking to self build after it was revealed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that there was a 11% decline in the number of planning applications for self builds with problems in the planning processes cited as being a main reason for the decline.

Brian Barry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), previously called for the government to do more for self builders and recommended increased funding for local authority planning departments, including hiring and training more planning staff, and a greatly simplified planning process to get homes out of "planning purgatory," which this extra government funding could allow for.

Michael Gove sitting at a talk as the secretary of Levelling-Up

Gove has acknowledged the issues in the planning system and responded by providing £24 million to speed up planning decisions, which has previously proved a major obstacle to self builders and those looking to renovate (Image credit: Getty Images)

Focus on environmentally-friendly homes 

Gove also emphasised in his speech the importance of housing that resonates with the local population as Gove called for community-driven housing that prioritises aesthetics, environmental respect, and energy-efficiency.

To achieve this, the 'Office for Place', headquartered in Stoke-on-Trent, has been established under the guidance of urbanist Nick Boys-Smith, which Gove claims "will ensure that new places are created in accordance with the very best design principles"

Gove claims the new department aims to strike a balance between "environmental responsibility and architectural beauty" by preserving and adapting existing beautiful buildings.

He stated: "We must learn the lessons from past failures as we build for the future. We must ensure that new builds are of the highest quality and also that renovation work proceeds apace in our existing housing stock."

To achieve this he announced new design codes for new builds will be introduced, and a consultation will occur later in the year for a universal Future Homes Standard that prioritises zero-carbon, well-insulated homes adaptable to varying climates in order to tackle the fifth of UK homes, which do not meet basic standards of inhabitability.

Inflation a barrier to building that must be tackled

Inflation remains a key barrier to homebuilding and must be tackled to solve the housing crisis, Gove stated.

In June 2023 the inflation rate stood at 7.9%, as Gove claimed: "In every western country inflation is a barrier to building.

"Inflation has pushed up the price of materials, it has required interest rates to rise, it has squeezed access to credit and, with tight labour markets across the West, construction has everywhere become more difficult. But construction is more necessary than ever."

He claims for his '10 Principles' to be effective "tackling inflation is critical" in order for them to succeed as the government makes lowering inflation one of its top priorities.

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.