Midland’s housebuilder A C Lloyd has withdrawn its application to build 200 homes on agricultural land in Warwickshire despite having secured outline planning permission.

The move follows levelling up and housing secretary Michael Gove’s decision to call in the developer’s reserved matters application on design grounds.

The housebuilding industry views Mr Gove’s increasingly interventionist approach over how a scheme looks as a worrying trend.

National Federation of Builders, NFB, housing and policy head Rico Wojtulewicz said: “If it’s so important to improve design the government needs to tell us what needs to be done so that we can deliver the outcome they want.”

Housebuilding industry left in design limbo

He said it was likely to be a couple of years before local authority design codes, proposed in the levelling up and regeneration bill, came into effect.

About the same time as Mr Gove called-in the AC Lloyd scheme, in the village of Whitnash, he pulled the plug on another development for 150 homes in Sandbach, Cheshire on similar grounds. However, Muller Property Group has said it will challenge Mr Gove over the decision.

These two call-ins follow the secretary of state’s attempt to block a 165-home scheme by Berkeley Homes in Tunbridge Wells, Kent on design grounds. However, the secretary of state is reconsidering his stance following advice his position might not stand up in court.

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders were increasingly concerned about uncertainty relating to planning applications since Mr Gove’s appointment in September 2021.

Home Builders Federation, HBF, communications director Steve Turner, in an earlier interview with Housing Today, said: “The secretary of state is personally intervening to block developments that the local authority actually wants to see go ahead.

“Regardless of the supposed aims the outcome seems to always be the same: fewer new homes built.”

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Shiraz Khan