The planning rules Rachel Reeves is promising to change Credit: AFP/Getty ImagesThe planning rules Rachel Reeves is promising to change Credit: AFP/Getty Images

In her first speech as chancellor, Rachel Reeves announced a radical overhaul of the planning system.

Rachel Reeves used her first speech as chancellor to outline the new Labour’s government’s plan to kickstart the economy.

She announced a range of measures on Monday, several based around planning reform, in an effort to promote growth and “fix Britain’s foundations” – funded largely by private investment.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves (C) walks through the Treasury, before delivering a speech to an audience of leading business figures and senior stakeholders, announcing the first steps the new Labour Government will take to deliver economic growth, in London on July 8, 2024. (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rachel Reeves walks through the treasury before delivering her speech. (AFP via Getty Images)

Reeves vowed that the government would reform the planning system to “deliver the infrastructure that our country needs” and help families on to the property ladder.

Ban on Onshore Wind Farms Lifted: Rachel Reeves Aims to Boost Renewable Energy

In a significant move, Rachel Reeves has announced an immediate end to the restrictions on building new onshore wind farms in England. This decision reverses the measures introduced by the Conservatives in 2015 under then Prime Minister David Cameron.

Reeves criticized the previous ban as “absurd” and stated that decisions on new onshore wind developments will now be made at a national level rather than locally. This change aims to streamline the approval process and encourage the growth of renewable energy in the UK.

Rachel Reeves Announces Major Overhaul of Planning Rules and Lifts Ban on Onshore Wind Farms

Rachel Reeves has announced a significant update to the National Planning Policy Framework, set to be completed by the end of the month. As part of this overhaul, Reeves declared an immediate end to the ban on new onshore wind farms in England, calling the previous restrictions “absurd.”

Reeves explained, “As of today, we are ending the absurd ban on new onshore wind in England. We will also go further and consult on bringing onshore wind back into the nationally significant infrastructure projects regime, meaning decisions on large developments will be taken nationally, not locally.”

Tackling Stalled Housing Schemes

In her speech, the Chancellor also pledged to address the housing crisis, aligning with Labour’s manifesto promise to build 1.5 million new homes over the next five years. To achieve this, Reeves announced the formation of a new housing task force dedicated to accelerating stalled housing projects across the country.

“We will create a new task force to accelerate stalled housing sites in our country,” Reeves said. “Starting with Liverpool central docks, Worcester Parkway, Northstowe, and Langley Sutton Coldfield, representing more than 14,000 homes.”

Additionally, planning appeals for two data centers in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire are being reconsidered by Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner, Reeves mentioned.

Addressing Local Concerns

Despite the ambitious plans, Reeves acknowledged potential challenges ahead. One local Conservative MP, Nigel Huddleston, has voiced concerns about the government’s “top-down approach,” emphasizing the importance of considering local opinions.

Huddleston remarked, “The local voice should not be ignored. While we all know we need more housing, it has to be in the right place, on the right scale, and with appropriate supporting infrastructure.”

Rachel Reeves Announces New Initiatives to Boost Housing Development

Rachel Reeves has unveiled plans to employ 300 new planning officers across the country, aimed at helping local councils speed up the building process. This initiative is part of a broader effort to address the housing crisis and streamline development.

Reeves emphasized that the government is not giving a “green light” to any and all housing projects indiscriminately. “We are not going to be in the business of building those homes directly. We need the construction sector, the housebuilding sector, to build those homes,” she said.

She stressed the importance of accountability and the need for a balanced housing mix. “We are not going to let people off the hook. We want affordable housing, and we want housing for social rent as well. That is an important part of the mix.”

By adding more planning officers and holding developers accountable, Reeves aims to ensure that new housing projects are not only accelerated but also meet the needs of the community, providing affordable and social housing options.

Reeves announced that the government will bring back mandatory homebuilding targets in order to meet its pledge of constructing 1.5 million new homes.

It is part of an effort to strip back the bureaucracy that is holding back the housing sector.

She said: “It will still be in the first instance up to local communities and local authorities to decide where housing is built. But we will being back those mandatory housing targets and so the answer cannot always be no.

“I am not willing to accept that status quo and so we’ve got to get Britain building, and we’ve got to ensure families can get on the housing ladder.”

Rachel Reeves Proposes Green Belt Review to Boost Housing Development

As part of Labour’s planning reform, Rachel Reeves has announced a review of green belt boundaries to prioritize the development of brownfield land—previously developed but now unused areas—and grey belt land, which are lower quality areas within the green belt, for new housing projects.

Reeves stated, “We must acknowledge that trade-offs always exist. Any development may have environmental consequences, place pressure on services, and rouse voices of local opposition, but we will not succumb to a status quo which responds to the existence of trade-offs by always saying no.”

This approach aims to balance the need for new housing with environmental concerns and local interests, ensuring that development is both responsible and necessary to address the housing crisis.

  • Rachel Reeves promises homes and economic growth in first speech as chancellor. “Rachel Reeves said she would bring back compulsory housebuilding targets and end the effective ban on onshore wind farms in England in order to fast track national infrastructure projects.” [Yahoo Finance]

  • Government ditches onshore wind ban in move hailed by industry and campaigners. “Labour previously said it would overturn the ban within weeks if it came to power after the election, as it seeks to double onshore wind as part of its plans to transform the grid to clean energy by 2030.” [PA Media]

  • Reeves: Public finances are in their worst state since the war. In her first speech as Chancellor, she said that Labour has inherited the “worst set of circumstances since the Second World War.” [The Telegraph]

  • Rachel Reeves is the UK’s first female chancellor. Here’s why that’s so significant. “The post of chancellor has existed for the past 800 years and, notably, has always been held by a man. Until now.” [The Conversation]

  • Who is in Keir Starmer’s cabinet? Meet the new Labour frontbench. “Rachel Reeves is the UK’s first female chancellor, David Lammy was named foreign secretary, Yvette Cooper is home secretary, John Healey is defence secretary and Wes Streeting is health secretary.” [Yahoo News UK]

  • What we can expect from the new government’s first 100 days. “Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to ‘hit the ground running’ with a focus on delivery from day one after returning his party to government for the first time in 14 years.” [Sky News]

  • Who is Rachel Reeves, Britain’s first female chancellor? “Reeves’s competitive streak defines her love of chess, which her father taught her when she was seven, giving her the ‘chess bug’. She later became the British girls’ under-14 champion.” [Evening Standard]

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