the rise of nimbys and the fall of planning

British taxpayers are paying a record amount of money to cover the costs of a broken planning system that is crumbling under the pressure of years of underfunding and the rise of nimby activists. The “not in my backyard” campaigners are fervently against housebuilding, and most other developments, in their local area. In 2022, planning approvals had dropped to their lowest level in 16 years according to figures published by the department of levelling up, housing and communities. However, new information shows British taxpayers are paying more and more to cover the costs of developers successfully appealing planning applications rejected by local authorities. The declined planning applications that are eventually reversed after being appealed increased to more than 30% in 2023, the highest in ten years, and taxpayers are covering the costs.

Last December, Michael Gove introduced reforms to the National Planning Policy Framework by removing mandatory housebuilding targets and reducing the land supply some councils need to allocate for housing. The knock-on effect was local councils cancelling housing developments and rescinding initial approvals. The opposition leader of the Labour Party has pledged to enact mandatory targets and build 1.5 million new homes by “removing the blockages” in the planning system if they come to power. Yet, planning reform has no meaning unless backed up by real consideration. Proper reform means making changes to the planning system, like streamlining approvals for new developments or imposing targets on local authorities, to build new homes and ease Britain’s housing crisis.