Labour manifesto pledges to 'put the voices of local people at the heart of planning'

A pledge to "put the voices of local people at the heart of planning" and a requirement that "the climate and environmental emergency to be factored into all planning decisions" made by councils are included in the Labour Party 2019 election manifesto, published today.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (pic: Getty)
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (pic: Getty)

The party’s manifesto, It’s time for real change, was launched this morning by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The manifesto says that it sets out Labour’s policies which apply across the United Kingdom. Where responsibilities have been devolved, policies are for England only.

In devolved areas such as health, education and local government, Labour’s policies for Scotland and Wales are set out in the manifestos published by its Welsh and Scottish parties, the document says.

Amongst its pledges, the document says that, across England, Labour will deliver "more than a million" social homes over a decade. 

It says that, by the end of the Parliament, again across England, a Labour government would be building "at an annual rate of at least 150,000 council and social homes, with 100,000 of these built by councils for social rent".

This would be backed up by a new duty on councils "to plan and build these homes in their area, and fund them to do so, with backing from national government."

The party would also "scrap the Conservatives’ bogus definition of ‘affordable’, set as high as 80 per cent of market rents, and replace it with a definition linked to local incomes."

It would also end the conversion of office blocks to homes through permitted development.

Labour would create a new Department for Housing, make the government’s housing agency Homes England "a more accountable national housing agency", and "put councils in the driving seat," the manifesto states.

There would also be a new "English Sovereign Land Trust, with powers to buy land more cheaply for low-cost housing".

It adds that developers "will face new ‘use it or lose it’ taxes on stalled housing developments."

The party also pledges to "make brownfield sites the priority for development and protect the green belt" and there would be "a review of the planning guidance for developments in flood risk areas."

Elsewhere, the document says that a Labour government would "put the voices of local people at the heart of planning" and would "rebalance power in the planning system by giving local government greater freedom to set planning fees and by requiring the climate and environmental emergency to be factored into all planning decisions."

In a section on the environment, the document says that Labour will "review and improve protected area designations, from National Parks to local nature reserves and urban green spaces."

The party would create new national parks "alongside a revised system of other protected area designations".

There would be a new Climate and Environment Emergency Bill "setting out in law robust, binding new standards for decarbonisation, nature recovery, environmental quality and habitats and species protection."

The document also pledges that the party would:

  • introduce a "tough, new zero-carbon homes standard for all new homes"
  • stop "social cleansing by making sure regeneration only goes ahead when it has the consent of residents, and that all residents are offered a new property on the same site and terms"
  • "bring together transport and land-use planning to create towns and cities in which walking and cycling are the best choice: safe, accessible, healthy, efficient, economical and pollution free"
  • "increase and expand" local bus services, reinstating the 3,000 routes that have been cut
  • introduce "a long-term investment plan including delivering Crossrail for the North as part of improved connectivity across the northern regions"
  • consult with local communities to reopen closed branch railway lines
  • Introduce a new Clean Air Act "with a vehicle scrappage scheme and clean air zones, complying with World Health Organisation limits for fine particles and nitrous oxides"
  • "extend high-speed rail networks nationwide by completing the full HS2 route to Scotland, taking full account of the environmental impacts of different route options"
  • promote the use of rail freight "in order to reduce carbon emissions, air pollutants and congestion on the roads"
  • bring council services – from bin collections to management of local leisure centres – back in-house within the next Parliament, backed by a "presumption to insource public services"
  • "revive high streets by stopping bank branch closures, banning ATM charges and giving local government new powers to put empty shops to good use"
  • list pubs "as Assets of Community Value so community groups have the first chance to buy local pubs when they are under threat"
  • bring about "a radical decentralisation of power in Britain so that local people and communities are given far greater control over their own lives and prospects"
  • create a new Local Transformation Fund in each English region to be "used exclusively to fund infrastructure projects decided at a local level"
  • Build 7,000 new offshore wind turbines, 2,000 new onshore wind turbines, enough solar panels "to cover 22,000 football pitches" and "new nuclear power needed for energy security".

The Liberal Democrat manifesto, published yesterday, pledged to scrap office-residential permitted development rights and "reform planning to ensure developers are required to provide essential local infrastructure".

The Green Party manifesto, published earlier this week, pledged to amend the National Planning Policy Framework to allow local authorities to calculate their own housing need.

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