Last week we held our first General Election event alongside DP9 with a fantastic panel to answer the core question of how the upcoming election and the possibility of a change in government will impact the built environment sector.

Thank you to Fiona Fletcher Smith, Cllr Peter Mason, Joe Dromey, and Philip Collins for participating and sharing your insights alongside Andy Clark and panel chair Karen Alcock. And thanks to Chris Gascoigne for hosting everyone at such a fantastic venue.

Now, a week on, following the release of the Labour Party’s manifesto, we’re reflecting on the key points made.

With Labour promising to deliver 1.5 million homes within their first 5 years in government, Andy questioned the speed at which Labour will be able to start delivering their commitments. As the party leadership takes a pro-development stance, Joe conveyed the need to ensure there is agreement across the party with no space for Labour MPs to take a NIMBY approach instead. Party discipline will be key and Labour must be focused on delivery rather than protecting every seat it may gain on July 4th.

Yet the challenge for the country extends beyond simply delivering at scale, it will need to be underpinned by significant investment in new and existing social housing in the capital and beyond. Fiona noted how the housing affordability crisis in London is a significant factor in the city’s flatlining economy over the last decade, emphasising the importance of reinvigorating London’s overall economy given it acts as an engine of growth for the wider UK.

There was consensus amongst the panellists that the challenges are not just financial, with wider growth required across sectors, specifically infrastructure. Joe focused on the impact of new and improved transport  infrastructure, highlighting the success of the Elizabeth line in underpinning growth and housing development in surrounding areas. Joe pointed to the Bakerloo line extension as a good example of infrastructure investment that should be prioritised.

This sentiment was echoed in Labour’s manifesto which includes detail around a ten year infrastructure strategy to align national and regional priorities which would be overseen by a national infrastructure and service transformation authority. 

The panel also delved into questions around planning reform. On the one side, there was a push to enhance the current system, whilst others highlighted the need for more comprehensive planning reform to meet the ambitious housing numbers set out by the Labour Party.

This is the key item on the agenda for a new Labour government. The party have committed to reforming planning at their heart of their plan to get the country’s economy moving. Cllr Mason highlighted how affordable housing approvals and delivery is constrained at a local authority level due to barriers, including access to funding and retention of skilled officers in local planning departments. He emphasised that there are no easy answers and stressed the need for bolder thinking to find solutions to the housing crisis.

The key question around governance was whose portfolio regeneration, housing and strategic infrastructure would sit within. Will it sit within the purview of a revised Department for Levelling Up under the strategic direction of Angela Rayner? Or will a long standing highly experienced former minister such as Pat McFadden be given the brief and a clear remit to get more homes built?

Given the importance of housing delivery and growth within Labour’s offer to the country, never before has there been such a significant opportunity for the property industry to work hand-in-hand with government.  Speak to the Kanda team to understand more about how we can support your business in navigating this new future outlook.

This event is part of Kanda’s unique political insights offer to clients as we approach the election. If you would like to find out more about our offer click here.

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