Labour turn to former Tory minister to help deliver new homes

Nick Boles

Labour has approached a former Conservative minister to help push through its proposals to alter existing planning rules, with a number of changes expected to be announced within days to “get Britain building” millions of new homes.

Nick Boles, who was a planning minister in David Cameron’s coalition government, has been approached for a review of the UK’s National Planning Policy Framework, with a view to making it easier to build new homes, laboratories, digital infrastructure and gigafactories.

Sir Kier Starmer is set to announce immediate changes to planning regulations as early as this  week, including reinstating mandatory targets for local authorities to build more homes and making it easier to develop on green belt land.

The new Labour government plans to launch a consultation to decide where to build a series of new towns, with the aim of selecting sites by the end of the year.

The chancellor, Rachel Reeves, has put planning reform at the heart of her growth plans, arguing that none of the party’s broader housebuilding and infrastructure plans will work without it.

Sir Kier Starmer

Party sources said that Boles, who switched his allegiance from the Tories to Labour in late 2022 shortly after Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-budget, could be made a “planning tsar” to help pilot a broad-ranging review of the system.

Boles, who made his name as a minister by pushing for wide-ranging planning reform, has criticised the Conservative party for scrapping the agenda under pressure from backbench MPs.

Labour has promised to restore the requirement for local authorities to hit population-based housing targets, which was dropped last year by Michael Gove the now former housing secretary.

More recently Boles has been advising Starmer’s shadow cabinet on its preparations for government.

Labour’s manifesto included a pledge to build 1.5 million homes over the lifetime of the parliament.

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