Boris Johnson’s planning reforms could turn southern England into urban sprawl | Simon Jenkins

Plans that would open green spaces to Los Angeles-style development will do nothing to level up the regional divide

The British government is trapped again by the picaresque politics of Boris Johnson. When the pandemic has subsided, the legacy of 2021 could yet be something more long-lasting – the permanent scarring of the landscape, courtesy of the 2019 parliament.

Last spring, the prime minister trumpeted the “tearing down” of English town and country planning regulations, in place since the 1940s. That was enough to have him pummelled at last month’s Chesham and Amersham byelection. The planning minister, Robert Jenrick, then protested that “tearing down” did not mean “ripping up”, whatever that means. He is now wrestling with a shambles of reform.

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