Tory 2019 election victory: Live reaction blog

Leading built environment groups and individuals have been reacting to news of the Conservative Party's victory in yesterday's general election.

Prime minister Boris Johnson entering Number 10 Downing Street this morning. Pic: Getty Images
Prime minister Boris Johnson entering Number 10 Downing Street this morning. Pic: Getty Images

Victoria Hills, chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), called on Boris Johnson’s incoming government to ensure local planning authorities are adequately resourced to deliver for local communities. She said: "We urge them to now act fast to ensure planning and planners are adequately resourced to enable local planning teams to deliver for communities. There is now a golden opportunity to invest in the much needed infrastructure to unlock the potential to deliver the communities that people want to live in. Strategic planning can play a key role and we urge the incoming Government to embrace it and more forward with further devolution. Over the past decade, local authority planning teams have seen a reduction of 42 per cent in funding, a situation which must now be urgently addressed to enable us to meet the challenges ahead." Planning also has a crucial role in helping to deliver the government’s net zero carbon targets by 2050, she added. 

Stuart Andrews, national head of planning at law firm Eversheds Sutherland, said: "The most significant issue for the English planning system that will arise from a Conservative majority is its commitment to devolve "power to people and places across the UK" and to secure "full devolution across England". The process will lead to the combination and consolidation of local authorities into regional public bodies and it will fundamentally change the way all planning decisions are made. Ultimately, it will assist in the reintroduction of a strategic plan making system but that may take time to fully evolve." 

Iain Gilbey, housing and planning partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, said: "If housing and Infrastructure delivery momentum is to be built and maintained, the key policy documents and decisions that will need to be made early in the term will include a social housing white paper (which will need to obviously embrace the government’s new supporter base in the Midlands and the North), the accelerated planning green paper (delayed from this Autumn), and some meaningful commitments to funding, through HIF, or other capital programmes – to join up new infrastructure with housing delivery.

"With a strong working majority, we might see some braver decision-making on appeals – helping to generate more housing, more quickly. However, the Conservative’s inherent love of green belt protection is unlikely to be watered down anytime soon. Instead, we can expect to see a greater emphasis on good quality design, and perhaps a return to a more locally led sustainability agenda."

James Bainbridge, head of planning and development at property consultancy Carter Jonas, said: "As well as the need to increase rapidly the supply of new housing, homeownership remains the primary driver of the Conservative housing strategy. However, as with the other manifestos in this election, they have been less specific on how they will deliver the target numbers of new homes proposed.

"There has been limited commentary on how best to take sites from concept phase to early delivery and occupation. Many working in the planning and development sphere agree that a fundamental problem has been the resourcing of local authorities, who need to plan and manage new development. With the Royal Town Planning Institute asserting that there has been a 42 per cent reduction in funding for local planning authority planning teams over the last decade, delivery will likely continue to be delayed unless plans can be prepared more rapidly and the process move more quickly. There are a huge number of highly committed planners in local government and they need to be offered more resources to deliver new homes.

"Both Conservative and Labour reaffirmed the importance of the green belt and the prioritisation of development on brownfield land. Development of the green belt is always a contentious issue, but given the housing numbers that need to be achieved it seems inevitable that some development will continue to take place on planned green belt release sites, especially in areas of highest house prices including London, Cambridge and Oxford."

Melanie Leech CBE, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: "We look forward to building a meaningful partnership with the new Conservative Government to help the property industry to maintain and increase the positive economic and social impact it makes across the UK. Our country faces huge challenges that the property industry is uniquely placed to help tackle, be it delivering more homes and better places, supporting our town centres, spreading prosperity through our regions or creating a clear roadmap to creating a net-zero built environment. We hope the Prime Minister will listen and grasp the opportunity with both hands."

President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Alan Jones, said: "The new government must bring the country together by turning promises into action. We need critical investment to solve the housing crisis through high-quality planning and homes, initiatives to tackle climate change and complete reform of our fire and building safety regulations to keep people safe."

In a statement the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) said it welcomed the Conservative Party's manifesto commitment to "support community housing by helping people who want to build their own homes find plots of land and access the Help to Buy scheme".

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said: "We are well overdue a period of certainty and stability so businesses can thrive. The Brexit deadlock has negatively impacted the productivity of construction and housebuilding but our members will be breathing a sigh of relief that a direction of travel can now be set. With so many commitments to small business, housing and the climate, we look forward to supporting Prime Minister Johnson to deliver his manifesto and ambitions."

Crispin Truman, chief executive of countryside charity CPRE, said: "We’re urging the new Conservative government to invest in rural communities to ensure the countryside can thrive and that those communities are not left behind. The new government needs to address urgent challenges such as providing genuinely affordable homes, supporting rural businesses, and investing in de-carbonised public transport. 

"We are also urging the new government to tackle the climate emergency, which is one of the biggest threats the countryside faces. The Conservative manifesto was light on environmental policy and of all the main parties, it had the least ambitious target to achieve net zero emissions. That's why we’re calling on Johnson and his team to take a much bolder approach to green issues. 

"Johnson claimed in his speech this morning that he wanted the UK to be the greenest and cleanest in the world. Therefore, plans must be announced in the first 100 days of his new term to invest in renewable energy, invest in public transport, improve the energy efficiency of our homes and shift farming from a carbon source to a carbon sink."

Johnny Caddick, a director at Yorkshire-based property developer Caddick Group, said: "This result - and the political need to now fully support the North with world-class infrastructure - will bolster confidence in regional economies which will enable more capital to flow into housing. The increase of skilled jobs - and the emergence of new businesses that can re-skill workers will be a magnet for employers and housing development. And with institutional finance continuing a global hunt for yield, the market will be looking positvely towards build to rent opportunities in 2020."

Dean Clifford, co-founder of London-based developer Great Marlborough Estates, said: "We now have a clear steer on where the country is going and hopefully an end to the political paralysis that has held back a lot of inward investment. The Conservatives have been right to focus on boosting owner-occupation in their manifesto given homeownership remains the aspiration for the majority and any steps to help first time buyers must be welcomed. However, the proposed stamp duty surcharge for overseas buyers risks hurting the London market just as it is beginning to recover and also sends a negative signal to international investors at a time when Britain should be outward looking."

Localis chief executive, Jonathan Werran, said: "It appears that we have witnessed an unprecedented and epochal national political realignment, a sea-change that holds great promise for bold devolution and economic rebalancing over the next parliament. All eyes should be on next year’s English Devolution White Paper and the combined authority mayoral elections for a sense of direction and advance in the agenda for transferring pro-growth powers from Whitehall and strengthening the local state. This will be influenced no doubt by a political determination from Boris Johnson’s government to try and hold onto the remarkable seats gained in the north and midlands overnight. 

"Devolution and local industrial strategy offer a route map to make good on campaign promises of ‘levelling up’ to these new-found blue-collar Conservative voters in left behind areas and to closing the gap between the most and least prosperous parts of the country. The trick will be to ensure productivity gains from a recharged and rebalanced UK economy find their way into the wage packets and lived experience of residents. Not an easy ask in the teeth of our post-war economic history, but a challenge that the post-Brexit economy will have to meet head on."


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