Reaction to the summer General Election plans

Taking to the steps of Downing Street for what could be one of his final times, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced last week that a General Election will be taking place on 4th July 2024.

Below are some reactions and theories about what this news means for the housing and development sector and what industry experts want to see from the next parliament. 

a street sign on the side of a building

Andrew Carpenter, chief executive office, the Structural Timer Association (STA)

‘This is a pivotal opportunity to place sustainable housing at the top of the political agenda and we urge all political parties to seize this chance to revolutionise the way we build our homes. Housing is a crucial issue for voters across the country, but it’s essential that we underline the importance of sustainability and to continue the momentum that has been garnered by the Timber in Construction Policy Roadmap, published in December last year.

‘Setting out a clear path towards the increased use of timber in construction, the Roadmap has laid the foundation for transforming our housing landscape through the integration of timber frame housing. This method of construction offers a speedy, sustainable and clean approach to meeting the current and future demands of housing – as well as utilising offsite assembly, which effectively addresses the skill shortages that are endemic within our sector.

‘Increasing the use of timber in construction presents a promising solution for the incoming government to address the pressing housing crisis and tackle net zero obligations, and it’s vital that the progress we have already made is not lost.’

Lawrence Turner, Director, Boyer

‘The housing crisis is a pressing issue that has plagued the UK for far too long. With a new Government potentially taking office on 4 July, there is hope that real change can finally be brought about to tackle this crisis head-on.

‘However, with only 100 days to make a significant impact before the end of October, it is essential that the new government focuses on key priorities that will have a lasting and effective impact on addressing the housing crisis. Here, we outline the top ten points that we believe a new government should urgently address to bring about positive change in the housing sector.

  1. First and foremost, re-introducing mandatory housing targets for local authorities is crucial. Local councillors should not bear the burden of determining housing need in their communities, especially when faced with opposition from a vocal minority opposed to housing. By setting clear and objective housing targets at the national level, local authorities can focus on delivering the necessary housing in their district, without being swayed by local political pressures.
  1. In conjunction with mandatory housing targets, the reintroduction of regional planning is essential. Co-ordinating housing and infrastructure needs at the regional level will ensure a more sustainable and co-ordinated approach to development, leading to better outcomes for both residents and the environment.
  1. A National Green Belt Review is also imperative in ensuring that the most sustainable patterns of development are reflected in Local Plans. By prioritising sustainability and assessing the most appropriate locations for residential development closer to jobs and transport hubs, we can help reduce the need to travel and meet local authorities’ net zero carbon targets.
  1. The creation of New Towns is another key point that must not be overlooked. By reintroducing the concept of New Towns, we can effectively address the growing housing need while maintaining the integrity of Green Belts and preventing urban sprawl.
  1. Reversing recent policy changes in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is crucial to increasing housing delivery in the short term. The current relaxation of housing land supply requirements is only exacerbating the housing crisis. It is essential to revert to the previous standards to ensure that enough homes are being built to meet local needs.
  1. Increasing resourcing for Local Planning Authorities is also a priority. With understaffed and underfunded authorities, continued delays in planning applications and local plan preparation are inevitable. By providing financial support and investing in the necessary skills and expertise within local authorities, we can ensure that the planning system functions effectively.
  1. Creating a new Governmental department focused on tackling the housing crisis, along with appointing a Minister for the Housing Crisis, will help drive the agenda forward and ensure that the issue remains a top priority. With a dedicated department, plans to build more homes in sustainable locations can be properly implemented.
  1. Introducing mandatory Section 106 standard template agreements and increasing funding for legal professionals within local authorities will help streamline the planning process and reduce delays in granting permissions for developments. By avoiding reliance on temporary staff and ensuring swift agreement on necessary s106 terms, construction of new homes can begin sooner.
  1. Leveraging AI technology to aid in processing planning applications and engaging with local communities on planning decisions is another innovative approach that can improve the efficiency and transparency of the planning system. By using digital communication channels and social media, local authorities can effectively communicate with residents and involve them in the decision-making and plan-making processes.
  1. Finally, legislating to address the impacts of phosphates on residential developments is essential. By tackling this issue at the source through collaboration with Water Companies, we can remove unnecessary barriers that prevent much-needed housing developments from moving forward.’

Antony Duthie, regional director, Lanpro

‘As manifestos are published in the coming days, it is vital that all parties recognise the importance of the planning system as a key economic facilitator and economic driver which can significantly increase the country’s productivity in addition to resolving the housing crisis.

‘The next government needs to take bold steps to resolve the many challenges that currently stand in the way of delivering much needed housing and infrastructure. People will be looking beyond the rhetoric of political campaigning and instead for evidence that manifestos can bring about real change.’

John Leiper, chief information officer, Titan Asset Management

‘UK in the out-of/no recession category, and the day inflation falls to 2.3% we see the UK Tory party announce their decision to go to the polls. Coincidence? I don’t think so. With one more print between now and vote day, and increasing odds inflation falls further to the fabled 2% number, Rishi has done all he can to increase his odds at the upcoming election. To quote James Carville, “it’s the economy stupid”. We continue to watch developments closely alongside potential implications for the UK economy and markets.’

Oli Sherlock, managing director of insurance, Goodlord

‘With a General Election now set for 4th July, the Renters (Reform) Bill and its progression is now in major doubt. This will be deeply frustrating for the whole industry, which is desperate for clarity. Should the bill not be pushed through as part of the wash-up we will be back to square one. The best we can hope for is that the next government, whoever it’s led by, puts housing and the PRS at the heart of their agenda.’

Images: Rui Chamberlain, Andrew Carpenter, Antony Duthie and Lawrence Turner 

More on this topic:

Local elections 2024: Conservatives in ‘a very tough situation’

Red vs blue: Everything you need to know about 2024’s local elections


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