Are we witnessing a new dawn for planning?

09 Jul 24

On Monday, Chancellor Rachel Reeves set out Labour’s plans to kickstart economic growth, underpinned by a reformed NPPF to be consulted upon before the month is out, aimed at unlocking the delivery of housing and major infrastructure projects. The imminent return of mandatory housing targets will be welcomed by the industry with open arms.

.

In his first speech as the new Prime Minister on Friday, Keir Starmer promised to ‘rebuild Britain’ through change. Starmer’s new cabinet was invited into No 10 shortly afterwards, and with the majority lifted directly from their shadow portfolios, the underlying message was one of stability. As expected, Angela Rayner was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Matthew Pennycook, MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, was appointed as Housing Minister, having served as Shadow Minister since 2021. With a growing queue of developers and promoters lining up to get their plans in front of Pennycook, the biggest challenge may be getting through the door.

On Monday, Chancellor Rachel Reeves set out Labour’s plans to kickstart economic growth, underpinned by a reformed NPPF to be consulted upon before the month is out, aimed at unlocking the delivery of housing and major infrastructure projects. The imminent return of mandatory housing targets will be welcomed by the industry with open arms.

The Chancellor laid out plans to end England’s ban on onshore wind, create a new taskforce to accelerate stalled housing sites and boost local authority capacity with 300 extra planning officers. The first stalled sites to be focused upon are all north of the M25; Liverpool Docks, Worcester Parkway, Northstowe and Langley Sutton Coldfield, representing a pipeline for delivering more than 14,000 homes. The Chancellor emphasised that the public should be in no doubt’ that the Government will ‘get Britain building again’, cementing the Party’s commitment to delivering on their manifesto.

Rayner will soon write to local authorities, requesting reviews of the Green Belt (as predicted by Iceni Planning Director Jamie Sullivan in last week’s article) and pushing the prioritisation of brownfield and grey belt land for delivering affordable and social rent homes. This could be seen as just the start of Labour’s plans for unveiling change and driving growth.

Labour’s approach to the election campaign was cautious and tactical, with a clear avoidance of anything too radical or risky. However, with that out of the way, for a newly formed government, these early days are those of the lowest risk and highest opportunity.

Now is the time for the new government to get under the skin of the housing crisis and find creative solutions for driving transformation and acting for the good of the communities they represent – without worrying about the next set of election results.

Sian Buckley Consultant,Engagement
Gemma Gallant Director,Engagement