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What will the General Election mean for planning and new homes?

Jun 25, 2024

By Laura Potts, MRTPI, Planning Consultant, CAD Architects

This month, we have seen the main political parties release their manifestos ahead of the General Election on July 4th. Not surprisingly, as the UK is experiencing a housing crisis, the manifestos all set out new pledges and initiatives related to planning and house building.

As an expert planning consultancy based in Cornwall, we are of course keeping a keen eye on the various political manifestos, so we can stay ahead and help our clients navigate the changing situation with regard to planning laws, whoever wins the election.

Here is a brief overview of some of the headline pledges from the manifestos, related to planning and house building.

Firstly, the Conservative Party has pledged to build 1.6 million ‘well-designed’ homes in the right places if they stay in power. The Conservative manifesto was launched at Silverstone on June 11th. It committed to planning system reforms that include fast track permissions for farm infrastructure. This could include glasshouses, slurry and grain stores and small-scale reservoirs.

The Conservative manifesto states that the party would deliver a “secure future for communities by giving more people a better chance of living where they would like – near their family, friends and job”. To deliver 1.6 million homes in England during the course of the next Parliament, the party commits to:

  • Abolishing the “legacy EU ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules to immediately unlock the building of 100,000 new homes with local consent, with developers required in law to pay a one-off mitigation fee so there is no net additional pollution.
  • Delivering a record number of homes each year on brownfield land in urban areas using a fast-track route through the planning system for new homes on previously developed land in the 20 largest cities.
  • Raising density levels in inner London to those of European cities such as Paris and Barcelona.
  • Supporting local and smaller builders by requiring councils to set land aside for them and lifting Section 106 burdens on more smaller sites.
  • Making sure local authorities use the new infrastructure levy to deliver the GP surgeries, roads and other local infrastructure needed to support homes.
  • Retaining the commitment to protect the green belt from uncontrolled development while ensuring that more homes get built where it makes sense.

The manifesto adds that a Tory government would make the planning system “simpler” to support those who want to build or commission their own home and the party would encourage the building of housing for older people.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has committed to overhauling planning rules and funding infrastructure to boost the economy. Their manifesto promises the construction of 1.5 million homes over 5 years, with a focus on a ‘new generation of new towns’ and council homes.

Labour Leader Keir Starmer has promised to completely overhaul the planning system, saying that the current planning process is delaying developments for years and holding the country back. Labour say that overhauling the planning system will be key to achieving their target of building 1.5 million homes within five years.

Other pledges and initiatives by Labour include:

  • A replacement to the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme to give approximately 80,000 young people a chance to get onto the property ladder. To be called Freedom to Buy it will help families who struggle to save for a large deposit and cannot rely on cash gifts from relatives via a permanent mortgage guarantee scheme.
  • A ‘first dibs’ to new homes policy for local people.
  • Taxing foreign property owners to fund additional planning officers.
  • Reforming the compulsory purchase rules to stop ‘speculators’ holding on to properties.
  • A renewed focus on local plans

And lastly, the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto promises to support councils with multi-year funding settlements and boost social housing, aiming to build 380,000 homes annually including 150,000 social homes.

They also propose granting councils new powers to manage housing, such as increasing taxes on second homes and setting their own planning fees.

In summary, whoever wins the General Election, there will be considerable further changes to the planning system, as the UK grapples with solving the current housing crisis and boosting the economy.

To stay on top of the latest developments, contact us at