Election done: The real work starts here

11.07.2024 6 min read

Whilst the dust settles on the election campaign and our new cohort of MPs are settling into their new jobs for the next session of parliament, we at Temple have looked at the recent announcements by the new cabinet and the various manifesto commitments and what it may mean for our sector.

As sure as the coming of the tide, each new administration promises an overhaul of the planning regime. Despite reports to the contrary, we are not expecting a fundamental overhaul of planning laws, but we are expecting revisions to planning policy including revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) within the month, as the new government strives for growth by “getting Britain building again”.


Labour pledged to implement planning reforms to construct 1.5 million homes within the next five years. This equates to building 300,000 homes annually – a goal the Conservatives did not achieve while in power, and a level of housebuilding not witnessed in the UK since the 1950s. Rachel Reeves reintroduces mandatory housing targets, but Labour faces a significant challenge ahead, targets for the property sector include:

  • 1.5 million new homes over the next Parliament
  • Changes to the NPPF and use of intervention powers (as above)
  • Strategic Green Belt (“Grey Belt”) release (as above)
  • Build a new generation of new towns
  • All Combined and Mayoral Authorities to strategically plan for housing growth in their areas giving Combined Authorities new planning powers along with new freedoms and flexibilities to make better use of grant funding
  • The biggest increase in social and affordable housebuilding in a generation
  • Strengthen planning obligations to ensure new developments provide more affordable homes
  • Changes to the Affordable Homes Programme to deliver more homes from existing funding
  • Support councils and housing associations to build their capacity and make a greater contribution to affordable housing supply
  • Prioritise the building of new social rented homes and better protect existing stock by reviewing the increased right-to-buy discounts introduced in 2012 and increasing protections on newly-built social housing
  • More high-quality, well-designed and sustainable homes, creating places that increase climate resilience and promote nature recovery
  • Implement solutions to unlock the building of homes affected by nutrient neutrality without weakening environmental protections
  • Work with local authorities to give first-time buyers first dibs on new homes
  • A permanent, comprehensive mortgage guarantee scheme, to support first-time buyers

Additional planning priorities include:

  • Take tough action to ensure that local planning authorities have up-to-date local plans
  • Reform and strengthen the presumption in favour of sustainable development
  • Immediately update the National Planning Policy Framework to restore mandatory housing targets
  • Where necessary make full use of intervention powers to build the houses the country needs.
  • Funding additional planning officers, through increasing the rate of stamp duty surcharge paid by non-UK residents.
  • Take a brownfield-first approach, prioritising the development of previously used land wherever possible, and fast-tracking approval of urban brownfield sites.
  • Preserve Green Belt but take a strategic approach to Green Belt land designation and release to build more homes in the right places, with lower quality ‘Grey Belt’ land prioritised and ‘golden rules’ to ensure development benefits communities and nature.
  • Introduce new mechanisms for cross[1]boundary strategic planning.
  • Further reform compulsory purchase compensation rules to improve land assembly, speed up delivery and deliver housing, infrastructure, amenity, and transport benefits in the public interest. For specific types of development schemes, landowners to be awarded fair
  • Compensation rather than inflated prices based on the prospect of planning permission.
  • Deepen devolution settlements for existing Combined Authorities. On housing and planning, consolidate powers to allow for improved decision making.
  • Give local areas new powers over transport, adult education and skills, housing and planning, and employment support
  • Create a new statutory requirement for Local Growth Plans for towns and cities nationwide, identifying growth sectors and the necessary programmes and infrastructure. These will be aligned with the new national industrial strategy.
  • Bring in multi-year funding settlements for local authorities and bring an end to competitive bidding

Having heard from some members of the Labour Party, there is a real sense that the constant changes in Housing Minister have ended and that Matthew Pennycook ought to be in the role for some time, Angela Rayner will get things done and the Chancellor is a real favourite of the Banking sector. Time will tell.


The Chancellor’s recent announcement on infrastructure is encouraging. The headline news is that the new government have removed the embargo on onshore wind energy developments in England as of 8th July 2024, reversing the nine-year de facto ban.

The Chancellor’s announcement to ask the relevant Secretaries of State for Transport and Energy Security and Net Zero, to prioritise decisions on Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) is also welcomed, as is the decision to revise relevant National Policy Statements by the end of the year, some of which haven’t been revised for well over 10 years. Whilst we await the details of these revisions this does seem to be a positive and welcomed step. Specific commitments to schemes and visibility of pipelines are key for organisations in the infrastructure sector, and we await this change of emphasis with hopeful enthusiasm.

The announcement was shortly followed by the Transport Secretary, who in her first address to DfT staff promised the “biggest overhaul to transport in a generation”, and set out five key priorities for transport including:

  • Improving performance on the railways and driving forward rail reform
  • Improving bus services and growing usage across the country
  • Transforming infrastructure to work for the whole country, promoting social mobility and tackling regional inequality
  • Delivering greener transport
  • Better integrating transport networks

She also reaffirmed government commitment to net zero saying: “Growth, net zero, opportunity, women and girls’ safety, health – none of these can be realised without transport as a key enabler”.

There are also several measures set out in the Labour manifesto which, if implemented, seem to set the UK in a positive and encouraging direction in terms of infrastructure investment, some of which include:

  • Production of a 10-year infrastructure strategy
  • Creation of a new National Infrastructure and Service Transformation Authority to set strategy
  • National wealth fund to invest in green energy generation Creation of state owned GB Energy
  • Update national planning policy
  • Promote and grow rail freight use
  • Support transition to electric vehicles through charging points and phase out date of new internal combustion engines cars by 2030

This is a notable and encouraging change in direction for UK infrastructure investment and housing development. We await in hopeful anticipation whether these welcomed and encouraging announcements can be translated into tangible progress in the delivery of national infrastructure schemes. Whatever comes to pass, it is clear that balancing the needs of the economy and society with environmental protections and the mitigation of impacts will be increasingly important as we move towards a hopeful and bright sustainable future.


Key Contacts

Thomas Smeeton Senior Director - Environment
James Sanders Senior Director - Environment & Planning
Mark Furlonger Senior Director - Planning & Design