Chancellor promises to prioritise infrastructure and housing


Chancellor Rachel Reeves delivered her first speech outlining how planning reform will stimulate growth and end political instability – here is how it will impact the sector…

Credit: gov.uk

The new chancellor for the exchequer, Rachel Reeves, outlined her plan for growth in her first speech to the Treasury following Labour’s win in the UK general election last week.

Reeves tempered her growth plan, claiming the incoming government is ‘inheriting the worst set of circumstances since the second world war’.

However, the chancellor highlighted three pillars for Labour’s urgent economic measures: stability, investment and reform.

She stressed the Labour government is committed to the pledges it made in its election manifesto. Labour pledged to build 1.5 million homes.

Reeves said: “I believe that the promises that the party are elected on, should be delivered on in government, and we will do so.

“To investors and businesses, who have spent 14 years doubting whether Britain is a safe place to invest, Britain [now] has a stable government, a government that respects business, wants to partner with business and is open to business.”

Reeves reiterated her commitment to creating a new national wealth fund as well as committing to housebuilding by introducing planning reform.

We will reform the national planning policy framework, consulting on a new growth focused approach to the planning system, including restoring mandatory housing targets”, she added.

The chancellor announced the end of the ban on new onshore wind in England, and promised to create a task force to accelerate stalled housing sites, representing more than 14,000 homes.

Reeves also announced reviews for green belt boundaries and prioritisation of brownfield and grey belt land for housing development to meet housing targets ‘where needed’.

In her final point, Reeves pledged to reform the planning system to deliver infrastructure.

We will ask the secretary of state for transport and the secretary of state for energy security and net zero to prioritise decisions on infrastructure projects that have been sitting unresolved for far too long.”

The chancellor also addressed potential opposition to the proposed growth plan including potential environmental impact but argued that her party has been elected on a mandate to ‘get things done.’

Labour’s plan has received some criticism within the industry, however.

BCIS chief economist, Dr David Crosthwaite, said: “The Labour Party’s manifesto pledge to build 300,000 new homes a year, 1.5 million over the election cycle, is a lofty ambition and nothing else.

Flooding the market with new homes would not be in the best interest of the property developers and the only way the government could influence supply would be to build themselves, which they used to do when local authorities employed direct labour to build social housing. But this option seems unlikely given the current state of the public finances.”

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