His intervention comes amid a growing row within the Conservative Party over the upcoming planning Bill due in the Autumn, which will see the country split into at least two zones marked for protection or growth.
In areas marked for development, critics say existing home owners will find it harder to object to new builds.
While Tory MPs in the south of England fear the plans will lead to a “Blue Wall” backlash from voters in leafy suburbs, senior ministers are said to view the reforms as key to consolidating their gains in Labour’s former heartlands.
High levels of home ownership in the Red Wall are believed to partly explain why traditionally working class communities are switching allegiances.
The issue is expected to come to a head again on Tuesday during a Queen’s Speech debate in the House of Commons, after Theresa May last week claimed that the plans would “reduce local democracy” and see the “wrong homes being built in the wrong places”.
However, ahead of the showdown, Mr Jenrick argues that the existing system is in fact a “labyrinth” in which just “three percent of the public are engaging”, and is heavily skewed in favour of “big developers who can afford expensive lawyers and understand how to navigate the system”.
He adds that the Government’s reforms will “take power out of the hands of the big developers” and make the system more “accessible”, with residents no longer reliant on planning notices attached to lamp posts or placed in libraries.
Instead, Mr Jenrick says people will be able to “contribute via their smartphone”, with ministers looking at a digital overhaul so that people are better able to contribute their views on local plans and design codes which dictate how planning permissions are granted in areas and what buildings should look like.
He adds that the UK will become the first major country to introduce local design codes which will make “high quality design” and “beauty” a priority “so that the look of streets reflects the aesthetic preferences of local people”.
“To borrow from the words of John Ruskin, we must build, and when we do, let us think that we build forever,” he says.
‘We have a duty to move towards a home ownership society once again’
By Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing
The past year has tested the entire nation. The pandemic abruptly cancelled life as normal, bringing different challenges to all of us.
While staying at home has been difficult for everyone, for those in small, substandard homes – or without a home of their own at all – the challenge has been more acute.
This has demonstrated something that was widely known beforehand: longstanding issues have meant that the type of homes being built haven’t matched people’s expectations, and the price tag attached to them has often been too high.
So, as life begins to return to normal, we must not forget the pressing need to address this problem. In doing so, we have an opportunity to dramatically transform the quality of life for many people across our nation, particularly the young.
The property-owning democracy is one of the foundations of our country and central to our identity as Conservatives. But there is a whole generation that now feels priced out of the dream of homeownership.
We have a duty to correct this imbalance and move again towards an ownership society in which more of our fellow citizens can enjoy the security and freedom of owning their own home.
That is why, as set out in the Queen’s Speech last week, we are introducing home ownership reforms to promote a simpler, faster and more predictable planning system as the underpinning of that effort.
The current system is simply not fit for purpose – and it would be disingenuous to argue otherwise. Indeed, surveys consistently show it fails to command the trust and respect of the public. It dates back to 1947 and is slow, bureaucratic and inefficient. France builds houses over three times as quickly as we do in Britain. And if pressed, most people would probably prefer the buildings and places built before, rather than after, it’s birth.
Without our home ownership reforms, plan making will remain tied to procedures designed for the last century.
We need to make these changes now to ensure we level up opportunity and deliver the homes and infrastructure, like schools and hospitals, needed across England.
I know that Telegraph readers share the desire to increase home ownership, want to achieve that aspiration themselves, or for their children and grandchildren, but want to do so with care for the environment and with broad local consent. These are our guiding principles too.
Our reforms will give communities a greater voice from the very start of the planning process.
The current system excludes local residents who simply don’t have the time to contribute to the labyrinth planning process: less than three percent of the public are engaging with the current planning system, which is heavily weighted in favour of the applicants; big developers who can afford expensive lawyers and understand how to navigate the system.
That is not fair, or conducive to the type of building people wish to see.
By making planning much more straightforward and accessible it will be easier for residents to influence the plan for their local area and have their say on the location and standard of new development ensuring that, unlike today, we build the right homes in the right places.
And, without question, we will continue to protect our Green Belt, as well as Conservation Areas and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. As happens now, it will be for democratically elected local councillors to decide how to provide the homes their areas need.
We are also making high quality design – and local views on beauty – central, so that the look of streets reflects the aesthetic preferences of local people. We will be the first major country in the world to provide locally popular design codes for every community, with tree lined streets accompanying new developments.
We want homes that instil pride and are built to last. To borrow from the words of John Ruskin, we must build, and when we do, let us think that we build forever.
Our home ownership reforms will take power out of the hands of the big developers and hand it back to local communities and small builders, putting an end to the big building firms’ monopoly. It is no surprise that they are content with the present system as its complexity prevents smaller firms and local entrepreneurs from competing.
We will also look at new ways of ensuring that sites build out as expected. This could include introducing levies on land with planning permission that has not been built out – no option is being taken off the table.
Building homes is never straightforward, because we all care deeply about homes as our greatest emotional and financial investment. But allowing the next generation to own their home should be something we can all agree on. Who would not want Generation Rent to become Generation Buy?
A better planning system means full, total accountability of councils over what gets built, and where.
It means a more engaging and accessible system for the public, where communities are reconnected to a planning system that serves them, able to contribute via their smartphone.
We want to live in a society that has re-established powerful links between identity and place, between history and the future, between community and purpose. Above all, we want to live in a country where young people can achieve their dreams, including one of the most basic of all, to raise a family in a home of their own.
The sensitive, but substantial reforms we will introduce will help us make that a reality, and usher in a golden age of high-quality home building for residents and neighbours alike.