The abandoning of the algorithm that would have encouraged development where people wanted to live – which is most often in Tory home county constituencies in the South East – signals a reversion to Tory instincts: to block new developments in their leafy idylls. Post-Cummings, the self-interest of Tory MPs with NIMBY constituents has reasserted itself at the expense of younger, future Tory voters looking for somewhere affordable to live. There is nothing more certain to change a Labour voter into a Tory voter than owning a home and starting a family. It is in the long-term interest of the country that property-ownership is widely dispersed, even if it is at the expense of short-term electoral considerations.
So it is disappointing to learn that Boris wrote to oppose the development of 500 homes on a brown-field site on the old Master Brewer site in his Uxbridge & South Ruislip constituency. Robert Jenrick overrode a ruling by the GLA permitting it to go ahead.
Stephen Wicks, the developer, was left fuming:
“The hypocrisy of all this is that Boris is on one hand saying ‘build, build, build’ but on the other hand he’s quietly nobbling councillors behind the scene… It’s difficult to demonstrate it but I’m pretty certain Boris will have had a word with Robert Jenrick and said ‘Look, this one’s a bit difficult for me, the locals don’t like it, so can you just quietly issue a holding order’.”
Jenrick will deny it, yet the blocking of residential developments in Tory constituencies is far too common.