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Election Watch: What the Labour Manifesto says about Planning

For my third (but not quite final*) post of Manifesto Week, it is time to turn our attention to Labour. 

But first, a reminder of the ground rules. I am using the same topic headings across all of my manifesto coverage (to aid comparison).  I am also steering clear of the 100% environmental pledges but have included those which are more planning adjacent.

I am also leaving proposals for wider property reform for my real - estate colleagues to address in due course. 

The full Labour Manifesto can be found here.


  •  1.5 million new homes over the next parliament. 
  • We will immediately update the National Policy Planning Framework 
    to undo damaging Conservative changes, including restoring mandatory housing targets.
  • We will ensure local communities continue to shape housebuilding in their area, but where necessary Labour will not be afraid to make full use of intervention powers to build the houses we need.
  • In partnership with local leaders and communities, a Labour government will build a new generation of new towns, inspired 
    by the proud legacy of the 1945 Labour government. Alongside 
    urban extensions and regeneration projects, these will form part 
    of a series of large-scale new communities across England. 
  • deliver the biggest increase in social and affordable 
    housebuilding in a generation. We will strengthen planning obligations 
    to ensure new developments provide more affordable homes; 
    make changes to the Affordable Homes Programme to ensure that it 
    delivers more homes from existing funding; and support councils 
    and housing associations to build their capacity and make a greater 
    contribution to affordable housing supply. 
  • Labour will prioritise the building of new social rented homes and better protect our existing stock by reviewing the increased right to buy discounts introduced in 2012 and increasing protections on newly-built social housing. 
  •  We will take steps to ensure we are building more high-quality, well-designed, and sustainable homes and creating places that increase climate resilience and promote nature recovery. 

Commercial Development & Infrastructure

Commercial Development

  • We will also update national planning policy to ensure the 
    planning system meets the needs of a modern economy, making it 
    easier to build laboratories, digital infrastructure, and gigafactories. 


  • developing a ten-year infrastructure strategy, aligned with our industrial 
    strategy and regional development priorities, including improving rail 
    connectivity across the north of England. 
  •  We will create a new National Infrastructure and Service 
    Transformation Authority, bringing together existing bodies, to set 
    strategic infrastructure priorities and oversee the design, scope, and delivery of projects.
  • We will set out new national policy statements, make major projects 
    faster and cheaper by slashing red tape, and build support 
    for developments by ensuring communities directly benefit. 
  • Labour recognises that prisons are of national importance and therefore will use all relevant powers to build the prisons so badly needed

Planning-Related Environmental Pledges 

  • We will implement solutions to unlock the building of homes affected by nutrient neutrality without weakening environmental protections
  • Labour will work with the private sector to double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind by 2030. We will invest in carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and marine energy, and ensure we have the long-term energy storage our country needs.
  • We will ensure the long-term security of the nuclear energy sector, extending the lifetime of existing plants, and we will get Hinkley Point C over the line. New nuclear power stations, such as Sizewell C, and Small Modular Reactors, will play an important role in helping the UK achieve energy security and clean power while securing thousands of good, skilled jobs.
  • Great British Energy will partner with energy companies, local authorities, and co-operatives to install thousands of clean power projects, through a combination of onshore wind, solar, and hydropower projects. We will invite communities to come forward with projects, and work with local leaders and devolved governments to ensure local people benefit directly from this energy production.

The Planning System & Local Government

Planning System

  • Labour will support local authorities by funding additional planning 
    officers, through increasing the rate of the stamp duty surcharge 
    paid by non-UK residents. 
  • Take tough action to ensure planning authorities have up-to date Local Plans 
  • Reform and strengthen the presumption in favour of sustainable development. 
  •  Introduce effective new mechanisms for cross-boundary strategic planning. 
  • Require all Combined and Mayoral Authorities to strategically plan for housing growth in their areas. We will give Combined Authorities new planning powers along with new freedoms and flexibilities to make better use of grant funding. 
  • Labour will take a brownfield first approach, prioritising the 
    development of previously used land wherever possible, and fast-tracking approval of urban brownfield sites. 
  • Labour will take a more strategic approach to greenbelt land designation and release to build more homes in the right places. The release of lower quality ‘grey belt’ land will be prioritised, and we will introduce ‘golden rules’ to ensure development benefits communities and nature.
  • Labour will further reform compulsory purchase 
    compensation rules to improve land assembly, speed up site 
    delivery, and deliver housing, infrastructure, amenity, and transport benefits in the public interest. We will take steps to 
    ensure that for specific types of development schemes, 
    landowners are awarded fair compensation rather than inflated 
    prices based on the prospect of planning permission.

Local Government

  • In England, Labour will deepen devolution settlements for existing Combined Authorities. We will also widen devolution to more areas, encouraging local authorities to come together and take on new powers.
  • a new statutory requirement for Local Growth Plans that cover towns and cities across the country.
  • Labour will review the governance arrangements for Combined Authorities to unblock decision making. We will provide greater flexibility with integrated settlements for Mayoral Combined Authorities that can show exemplary management of public money. On housing and planning we will seek to consolidate powers to allow for improved decision making. 
  •  will give councils multiyear funding settlements and end wasteful competitive bidding. 


Well. There is certainly a LOT to get your teeth into with this one. 

Whether you like them, or loathe them, Labour has a set out a comprehensive and detailed policy offer, which they have clearly been thinking about for some time! 

This is a manifesto for Planning nerds.

Labour had pledged to deliver 1.5 million homes over the course of the parliament. This will be a difficult pledge to meet, given the current state of housebuilding in England, but the manifesto does give a clear indication of how they envisage getting there.

Pledges which are likely to be well received by the sector include:

  • the reversal of the December 2023 changes to the NPPF and the reintroduction of mandatory housing targets;
  • taking “tough action” to ensure local planning authorities have up-to-date local plans;
  • bringing back an effective mechanism for strategic planning;
  •  additional funding for local planning authorities, and multi- year settlements for local government; and  
  • rebuilding local-authority and housing association capacity to deliver more affordable housing. 

We also have the well-trailed pledges to deliver new towns and take a more pragmatic approach to green belt release, which have been the subject of considerable discussion already.

What is not quite so clear is whether any of these proposals will require new legislation, or whether Labour intends to use the tools that are already at their disposal. Some of the pledges could be delivered through enacting more of LURA, but others may well need a fresh legislative vehicle to bring them to life.  And the path of new legislation rarely runs smoothly these days. 

How straightforward it will be to deliver this policy agenda in practice is quite another question - after all new towns tend to be fairly controversial at a local level. I guess a great deal will depend upon the outcome of the General Election on 4 July.  


*Apologies in advance, but there is likely to be another one.

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We will immediately update the National Policy Planning Framework to undo damaging Conservative changes, including restoring mandatory housing targets. We
will take tough action to ensure that planning authorities have up-to-date Local Plans and reform and
strengthen the presumption in
favour of sustainable development”