Three potential under-the-radar development trends of a potential Labour Government

02 Jul 24

At the Labour Party Conference last year there were numerous comments from senior figures about how the sector can be grown and the benefits this will provide to the NHS, freeing up family housing and driving economic growth.

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Many of you will have read The Times article over the weekend, which refers to early moves by an incoming Labour Government to encourage a local authority led review of the Green Belt as part of a wider plan to turbocharge house building. The rhetoric of these reforms is clear, but what are some tangible implications of these policies? I’ve set out three trends that could follow.

1. Support to swing behind the development of golf courses?
Redevelopment of golf courses for residential development has been on the rise for many years, but this trend could accelerate for the following reasons:

  • They are often sustainably located on the edge of a settlement
  • They are not ‘virgin’ undeveloped green fields and their development is therefore marginally more politically palatable.
  • Russell Curtis’s (RCKa) Golf Belt research has argued a more equitable use of these spaces can deliver a greater range of public benefits.
  • The above justification is likely to strike a cord with Labour run administrations who are increasingly controlling urban fringe authorities after a series of disastrous local elections for the Tories and younger more liberal demographics are pushed out to more peripheral parts of our cities.
  • The decline of membership of some golf clubs and what some might see as a surplus of courses.
  • Redevelopment doesn’t mean the golf club has to close, reconfiguration or rationalise can free up significant areas of land for redevelopment and existing public access can be improved and enhanced.

Putting all this together it’s easy to see how we might see more golf courses might (delete) prove a popular source of more housing in the future.

2. Independent schools studying their options? The law of unintended consequences could well apply to Labour’s proposals to make private schools pay VAT.

In some extreme cases, private schools which are barely hanging on, may close or downsize leading to interesting redevelopment opportunities.

In other less drastic scenarios, we may find a Head Teacher looking out the window at a sizeable land holding having just read the Starmer/Reeves article and wondering if a sensitive redevelopment may hold the key to offsetting their increased VAT bill.

This could be a co-location of uses, rationalising surplus land or just looking for ways to cross subsidise the cost of renewable energy production on site to reduce outgoings in the longer term.

3. Rise of Third Age Living developments? An Older Person Housing Taskforce report is expected later this year which could include proposed planning reforms. The Labour Party are unlikely to be deterred by this report’s origin under the Conservatives if it provides logical reforms to boost delivery.

At the Labour Party Conference last year there were numerous comments from senior figures about how the sector can be grown and the benefits this will provide to the NHS, freeing up family housing and driving economic growth.

The small footprint and higher density, coupled with the high quality landscaping means they could be very compatible partners for the two opportunities above. This is particularly the case where substantial open space retention is required.

Before the end of the year (and assuming we get the result we expect tomorrow) we’ll be returning to these topics through events and articles, please get in touch if you’d like to be notified of these.

Jamie Sullivan Director,Planning