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Labour “serious about change” and “grasping the nettle” - top agent

Labour’s proposed planning reforms indicates that the new government is serious about change and grasping the nettle on housebuilding.

That’s the view of Nick Leeming, chairman of agency Jackson-Stops, as well as other industry players who have welcomed the commitments made by Chancellor Rachel Reeves.

Leeming says: “Labour is grasping the nettle of planning reform and signalling to the industry that they are serious about change. Our latest research revealed over a fifth (22%) of the nation believe building on brownfield land and low-quality grey belt land would improve the housing market. 


“Interestingly, this trend was felt most strongly amongst older generations, with over a quarter of the over 55s agreeing that building on this land would improve the housing market. No doubt, this trend is being driven by those keen to see their children and grandchildren get onto the housing ladder.

“Buyers and sellers alike should take comfort in Labour’s focus on housing so early on; but in the short term the market is likely to remain on the same trajectory as the first half of 2024 as we wait for changes to start to filter through into actions. The property market can take comfort in its resilience, having navigated changing governments and policy changes time and time again, though this focus on housing building and planning reform is a marked change from recent years.”

Former RICS residential faculty chairman Jeremy Leaf - a London agent - is also broadly supportive, commenting: "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm and having ambitious housebuilding targets is important. It helps local authorities with delivery and reduces delays but checks and enforcements need to be present wherever possible if planning applications are delayed.

"The last time the country achieved anything like such a target was with considerable assistance of local authorities and we believe they should be encouraged to build more, either in partnership with private developers or housing associations, as the target will be difficult for private builders to achieve on their own. There will be some windfall gains from the new towns but they will take time to identify and plan. In the meantime, everything should be done to accelerate and expedite work in progress and give developers the confidence not only to achieve planning in reasonably quick time without cutting corners but also create a stable environment which will help them feel confident that they can sell or let their finished product."

Nathan Emerson, chief executive of Propertymark, echoes Leaf's and Leeming's enthusiasm, but wants more detail and discussion.

He says: “It is encouraging to see that the new UK Government is committed to reforming the planning system and delivering thousands of new affordable homes each year. Propertymark is keen to see a diverse mix of housing delivered that keeps pace with real-world demand.

“Fine details about reform to the National Policy Planning Framework must be mapped out and open to full stakeholder scrutiny. It’s crucial there is transparency on how they intend to meet their ambitious target of building 1.5m new homes by the end of its term in government, which in reality would mean having a large housing estate built every day before the next general election. 

“Whilst we support more homes being constructed, there needs to be careful consideration on background infrastructure to ensure we are making the best use of available land, ideally prioritising a brownfield-first approach.” 

And Colin Brown, Head of Planning & Development at the agency Carter Jonas, comments: “The change in tone and narrative from the new Labour Government is both welcome and refreshing.  However, it is early days for the administration, and we will need to see a lot more detail on how they intend to implement these changes so that delivery is realised on the ground. The scale of the challenge is huge.”

Reeves’ commitments include:

- Restore mandatory housebuilding targets;

- Build 1.5m homes by the end of this parliament - including affordable and council homes;

- End the onshore wind farm ban;

- Create a new task force to accelerate stalled housing sites - starting with 14,000 new homes across Liverpool Central Docks, Worcester, Northstowe and Langley Sutton Coldfield;

- Support local authorities with 300 additional planning officers across the country;

- Review planning applications previously turned down that could help the economy - planning appeals for data centres in Buckinghamshire and in Hertfordshire are already being reconsidered;

- Prioritise brownfield and grey belt land for development to meet housing targets when needed;

- Reform the planning system to "deliver the infrastructure that our country needs" - unresolved infrastructure projects to be prioritised; and

- Set out new policy intentions for critical infrastructure in the coming months.


  • icon

    What a lot of suck-ups.

  • icon

    Firstly Building companies won’t be flooding the market with new builds to supress profits, secondly where is the Labour to build coming from? Finally who is going to buy them ?

  • Floyd Paterson

    Talk is cheap, every new government says the same thing and here we are.


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