Camilla Cavendish (“The Boris Johnson plan is far from conservative”, FT Weekend, Opinion, July 4) could not be more wrong in attributing delays in building houses to local councils’ micromanagement of land use.

It was the government in which she served as head of David Cameron’s policy unit that introduced into the national planning policy framework a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”. This is the fundamental principle that councils must follow in considering planning applications. If they do not do so, the national Planning Inspectorate will override local planners.

As a last resort, a frustrated developer with the right connections can always ask the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government to override the Planning Inspectorate. We know how this worked in the £1bn Westferry property deal in east London.

Local governments are cash-strapped and their powers have been eroded. One of the few ways in which they can boost local resources is to attract business. Far from frustrating development, they compete for it.

Richard Batley
Birmingham, UK

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