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New developments look set to catch election fever

Landowners seeking to sell their land for development will have to adjust their expectations as the market, the planning system and the cost development will have an adverse impact on land values that will likely outweigh any limited improvements in the property market.  There will be other challenges too. Aside from the inevitable uncertainty and potential for change in relation to the general election, it is notable that Labour appears committed to allowing local authorities to purchase land through compulsory purchase, apparently without factoring in the price premium paid by developers in expectation of planning consent.  

Quite how this will work is uncertain but this policy promise seems central to Labour’s commitment to delivering 150,000 social / affordable homes each year.  It will invariably face substantial opposition and the very practicalities of compulsory purchasing land on a scale required to deliver this quantum of housing are questionable at best.  However,  given the predicted swing in favour of Labour at the next election it is likely that we will see a policy shift of this kind in some form and an increased emphasis on affordable housing provision and the role of the public sector in housing delivery.   

National spatial plan

The run-up to the general election will see more discussion and debate on the hugely divisive greenfield / brownfield, NIMBY/YIMBY issues which are guaranteed to once again rise in prominence.  According to recent research, the public believes that 47.1% of England is developed; in reality it’s just 8.7%. In fact more of England (12.6% ) is protected by Green Belt than is developed and in the last year the amount of land designated as Green Belt has actually grown.  These misconceptions and the need for increased housing provision must be addressed in public discourse aside from political affiliations.   

What this says is that the simple solution to building more new homes is getting the messaging right. Labour is intent on releasing more Green Belt (or ‘Grey Belt’) for housing and as we approach the general election I have no doubt that these arguments will be amplified. The failure to provide sufficient housing (of all tenures), increased housing prices and the slow under-resourced planning system will mean that planning and housing will be a major focus of the forthcoming election campaigns.  It is vital once the dust has settled that the planning system, and indeed the land market, is able to deliver the quantum of housing that is required in the right places... Did somebody mention regional planning, a national spatial plan and Green Belt review?


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