2019 election manifestos: where the parties stand on key planning issues

The main political parties have published their manifestos for the 2019 general election. Here are the key planning-related proposals that you need to know about.

General election: main party manifestos now published
General election: main party manifestos now published

Housing targets

The Tory manifesto says the party will continue to "progress towards our target of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s". It adds: "This will see us build at least a million more homes, of all tenures, over the next Parliament – in the areas that really need them." The party's 2017 manifesto pledged the delivery of an average of 250,000 homes per year in 2021 and 2022.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto includes a commitment to build at least 100,000 homes for social rent across England every year and ensure annual housing delivery in England tops 300,000 units. The Labour manifesto includes no specific overall housing target, but says that the party would deliver "a new social housebuilding programme of more than a million homes over a decade". It also commits to 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".

Discounted homes

Both Labour and the Conservatives have made pledges to deliver discounted homes. The Tory manifesto says that councils would be given powers to use developer contributions to discount new homes for "local people" by a third. It says: "We will offer more homes to local families, enabling councils to use developers’ contributions via the planning process to discount homes in perpetuity by a third for local people who cannot otherwise afford to buy in their area. Councils could use this to prioritise key workers in their area, like police, nurses and teachers." The Labour Party has said that it would compel developers to shoulder the costs of building "at least" 50,000 cut price homes for would-be owners on low incomes in its first five years in office. Labour said it would build new discount homes with prices linked to local incomes as part of wider plans to reserve more low-cost homes for first-time buyers.

Green belt

The Labour manifesto says the party "will make brownfield sites the priority for development and protect the green belt". It adds: "Green belts protect one tenth of our land and offer conservation of some of our natural environment. Introduced by Labour in 1947 to provide access to the countryside, they are threatened by developments." The Tory manifesto pledges to "protect and enhance the green belt." It adds: "We will improve poor quality land, increase biodiversity and make our beautiful countryside more accessible for local community use."

Permitted development and design quality

Labour promises to "end the conversion of office blocks to homes that sidestep planning permission through ‘permitted development’". The Lib Dems also say they would scrap permitted development (PD) rights allowing offices and shops to be converted to housing without a planning application in a bid to "protect our high streets and town centres". The Conservative manifesto does not mention PD rights but promises to "ask every community to decide on its own design standards for new development, allowing residents a greater say on the style and design of development in their area, with local councils encouraged to build more beautiful architecture".


The Labour manifesto says that a new "local transformation fund" in each English region "will be used exclusively to fund infrastructure projects decided at a local level, as will devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland". The Conservative manifesto pledges an "infrastructure revolution". It also says the party will "amend planning rules so that the infrastructure – roads, schools, GP surgeries – comes before people move into new homes." The Liberal Democrat manifesto commits to "reform planning to ensure developers are required to provide essential local infrastructure".

On High Speed Two (HS2), the Tory manifesto describes it as "a great ambition", but highlights the £81 billion cost, adding: "We will consider the findings of the Oakervee review into costs and timings and work with leaders of the Midlands and the North to decide the optimal outcome." Labour says it will "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". The party also promises to "introduce a long-term investment plan including delivering Crossrail for the North as part of improved connectivity across the northern regions". In addition, the Tories promise to "restore many of the Beeching lines, reconnecting smaller towns such as Fleetwood and Willenhall that have suffered permanent disadvantage since they were removed from the rail network in the 1960s". Meanwhile, Labour says it will "consult with local communities to reopen branch lines". 

The environment

Labour will "review and improve protected area designations, from National Parks to local nature reserves and urban green spaces," its manifesto says. The party would create new national parks "alongside a revised system of other protected area designations". There would also 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 "climate and environmental emergency to be factored into all planning decisions," the document says. The Liberal Democrat manifesto pledges pledges to "protect" up to a million acres of accessible green space and to create a new designation of "National Nature Parks". Local green spaces would also be given "the force of law," the manifesto says. The Tories say they will create new national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, "as well as making our most loved landscapes greener, happier, healthier and open to all".

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