Monday, 23rd March 2020

Temple Budget Review 2020

The first budget, since Boris Johnson’s election win in 2019, was released on 11th March 2020 and is already under pressure from the current global health emergency and is changing daily. The property and infrastructure sector highlights are below.

The £10.9 billion in housing is designed to deliver at least one million homes by the end of this parliament, on average delivering 300,000 per year. The investment will include £9.5 billion into the Affordable Homes Programme, £1.1 billion into the Housing Infrastructure Fund and £400 million towards encouraging brownfield housing developments.

The £400 million brownfield funding aims to encourage local authorities to actively encourage brownfield sites for residential development. While the funding will be made available to those local authorities who actively encourage brownfield housing development through their adopted development plans, the property industry may see an increase in planning applications for residential development -albeit not yet.

In addition to repairing potholes the budget pledges to invest £4.5 billion towards integrated transport settlements and strategic road improvements as well as £20 million to develop the Midlands Rail Hub. This will be the largest ever investment in the English strategic road network,  and £27 billion of the total investment will be made available between 2020 and 2025.

Transformation of cities
The government Transforming Cities Fund aims to improve productivity and spread economic growth through investment in both public and sustainable transport. The budget commits to investing £1 billion to the fund. This investment is expected to be spent on improvements to rail networks in the North of England and delivering new bus links, nationwide.

In addition to this, eight-city regions have been identified, who combined, will receive a total of £4.2 billion to invest in their transport networks.

Investments in public, and sustainable, modes of transport will contribute to the governments’ commitments to move towards more sustainable transport in an attempt to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions.

A Devolution white paper was to be (and could be published summer 2020.) It is expected to set out the government’s ambition to re-introduce regional planning and allow decisions to be made at a local level.

The idea is that it will deliver better engagement to local people within the planning process, reducing objections and enabling local people to contribute positively to development within their area.

Coinciding with increased powers of devolution (and a focus on low carbon and flood defences) this budget is a response to the commitment to ‘rebalancing’ the country. It remains to be seen whether it will all be delivered but our view is that new infrastructure must surely be critical to ensuring the long-term success of the economy in light of current problems.