UK Property Forums partners have told us what they want from the new Labour Government.

Many are hopeful of a new approach, some are cautious and some are optimistic about the next five years following the July 4 General Election and the Labour landslide.

Karen Jones, partner and head of planning at Blandy & Blandy, said: “The new Government and its majority will allow a period of stability in the legislative system to allow real change to progress.

“The planning system has been under-resourced in the public sector, not just at local authority planning officer level, but in statutory consultees such as the Environment Agency and Natural England.

“The Government must address this and the impact on decision making. Local authority lawyers being unable to cope with the backlog of S106 agreements, and the delay that causes, resonates here.

“Other matters on a planning lawyers’ wishlist are help with Local Plan timetables and the genuine challenges many local authorities face to deliver Local Plans, and better national and regional policy structures, dealing with post-Brexit environmental law issues such as nutrient neutrality, and what are proving to be complex and resource hungry biodiversity net gain requirements, recently introduced and yet to function effectively.”

Ifti Maniar, director of planning for WWA Studios, said: “The election result is not ‘out of the blue’ but as predicted. It is expected that the new Labour Government will soon hit the ground running in implementing the planning promises in their manifesto, including changes to the NPPF (this month) to achieve 1.5 million homes (822 homes/day) over the next five-year Parliamentary term.

“In the coming months, we will see a number of written ministerial statements (WMS) issued to local planning authorities (LPAs), reinforcing the need to start meeting their housing requirements and forcing them to review their Green Belt boundaries, if necessary. Only time will tell whether Labour can deliver their housing target.

“A small window of opportunity can also be expected for speculative housing applications in areas where councils are behind in their preparation of Local Plans and unable to meet their housing targets, similar to the statement produced by the coalition Government to pave the way for the NPPF’s introduction.”

Gary Jeffries, executive board member and head of residential for Vail Williams, said: “Labour’s commitment to building 1.5 million new homes during the next Parliament is a massive ambition, which I hope is deliverable.

“Given the current rate of housebuilding it is very unlikely to be an overnight fix, however, with issues such as our blocked planning system, production capacity difficulties, supply chain problems and important ecological considerations all needing to be addressed.

“We will also be watching carefully for details of the proposed business rates reform and what can be done to create the environment for greater business investment – better infrastructure, energy capacity, broadband and roads.”

Dan Channer, group managing director for Haslams Estate Agents, said: “Will a Labour Government change the housing market? The Labour manifesto is full of policies which appear to make sense (wholesale changes to the planning process; building on low-quality Green Belt; stopping rental bidding wars) but few people believe that 300,000 new houses a year will be built.

“Rumours abound of the Government building homes with its own balance sheet and we look forward to concrete policy replacing gossip. George Osborne stole a march on Labour with the banning of Section 24 mortgage relief and it led to the post-Covid rent increases which have, ironically, disenfranchised younger voters.

“We hope that policy makers see that improving standards in the private rented sector (PRS) requires incentives and grants which work with landlords, not against them.”

An undersupply of housing in key employment locations is constraining economic growth in England, prompting Savills to urge the new Government to ensure the right infrastructure is delivered in line with housing and employment growth.

Richard Janes, who leads the development team at Savills in Cambridge, said: “When considering the location of their business, commercial occupiers need be sure they will be able to attract and retain the workers they need and a key part of that is being confident that there is an adequate supply of housing.

“In some high-growth knowledge-intensive sectors, the choice of location is not limited to different UK centres but includes international competitors. Delivering the housing to support productive locations is therefore fundamental – a key piece of infrastructure to support long term economic success.”

Bidwells provided responses from each of three specialists.

Iain Murray, head of operational living at Bidwells, said: “Labour has seemed to be more willing to engage with the living sector, which is promising. The professionalisation of the sector to deliver exceptional rental living homes can be harnessed to support economic development in some of the UK’s strongest employers and industries through the delivery of flexible, professionally managed, environmentally conscious homes to facilitate high productivity across the whole of the UK.

“To address a yawning supply gap, our new Government should create a favourable environment for institutional capital to re-enter the sector. It should also resist misguided calls for rent controls, which have been proven to deter investment, slow supply and will only entrench the housing crisis.”

Chris Pattinson, managing partner, planning at Bidwells, said: “Labour recognises that Britain’s backed-up planning system is a massive hindrance to the UK economy.

“The success of our key industries, from science and technology to renewable energy, are reliant on planning regulations that clearly support the principle of sustainable development without repetition, deviation or hesitation.

“Initial impressions are encouraging. We look forward to seeing Labour back up its conviction with meaningful reform of planning regulations to support productivity and UK PLC.”

Mark Buddle, partner and head of residential development at Bidwells, said: “Labour’s pledges to restore mandatory housebuilding targets and open up parts of the Green Belt for development would undoubtedly resemble positive steps towards fixing Britain’s dysfunctional housing system.

“Ultimately though, the proof will be in the pudding whether our new Government can convert its promising rhetoric into action. Doing so is vital, not just for the future of the housing market, but for the nation’s economic productivity as a whole.”

Philip Campbell, commercial director at MEPC Milton Park, said: “With the results in, we welcome the renewed confidence and stability the sector will have in the wake of the election. The new Labour Government has made bold commitments to continue to support the UK’s science and tech capabilities. We want to work closely in partnership with Peter Kyle (Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology) and his team going forward, to realise the built environment’s potential in unlocking economic growth.

“Milton Park’s 10-day Local Development Order is an example of that collaboration in practice. A streamlined planning process, it has seen a joined-up approach across local government, innovation clusters and the built environment, which allows Milton Park and its occupiers to quickly capitalise on growth opportunities.

“When partnerships like those work, they can truly turbocharge the UK’s world-leading R&D capabilities and strengthen the demand for flexible laboratory and commercial space across the UK’s innovation ecosystem.”

Mike Righton, managing partner for the Thames Valley for RLB, said: “Congratulations to the Labour Party for its landslide General Election victory.

“RLB has a strong track record of working with Government and industry partners through initiatives such as the Construction Leadership Council and we look forward to supporting such collaboration in the future.

“The construction industry has such an important role to play as both an economic and societal growth enabler and it’s vital the new Government makes good on its manifesto commitments and prioritises leadership and action around key challenges including the planning policy framework, solving the complexities of the housing crisis, providing certainty around public infrastructure investment programmes / delivery models and addressing skills shortages.

“All of which needs attention whilst also providing conditions that encourages and attracts foreign investment to ensure the UK remains an attractive place to live, work and play.’’

Graham Flint, managing director for Oxfordshire housebuilder Pye Homes, said: “We congratulate Sir Keir Starmer and Labour on their General Election victory, and urge the new Government to ensure the delivery of their manifesto pledges to help boost the housing sector and address the estimated shortage of 4.3 million homes in the UK.

“We look forward to seeing further explanation of Labour’s ‘Freedom to Buy’ initiative, and the roll-out of the proposed 1.5 million new homes in England over the next five years, of which Pye Homes will play a small but important part.

“Locally, in the constituencies where we are currently building new communities, we welcome Calum Miller and Layla Moran as our new MPs. Calum promises to be a strong, local voice for our community, and having worked as a local councillor, we are confident that we can work together to help build new communities and strengthen existing ones.

“Layla Moran is a proud activist who has built her political career on community action and the environment; we look forward to showing her how we are forging new communities which have the environment at their heart, and relish working with both of our local MPs to create an Oxfordshire of which we can all be proud.”

Terri Warren, senior associate – commercial real estate, for IBB Law, said: “Labour’s commitment to reform the planning system and get the nation building again has resulted in a confidence in the housing industry that we’ve not seen for some time.

“Rachel Reeves intends to impose housing building targets for councils, enable planning permission to be granted for ‘Grey Belt’ land and get large-scale housing developments that have stagnated moving again.

“The increase in share prices for housebuilding companies since the election was announced is evidence of this renewed confidence. It is an exciting time for all those involved in the residential development sector, including us property lawyers!”

Image: Photo: Sergeant Tom Robinson RLC/MOD, OGL v1.0OGL v1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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