Rachel Reeves, HM Treasury, c Kirsty O'Connor for HM Treasury, via CC BY NC ND . bit.ly SLASH heHCq

Chancellor Rachel Reeves: 'With these steps we have done more to unblock the planning system in the last 72 hours than the last government did in 14 years.' Credit: Kirsty O'Connor for HM Treasury, via CC BY NC ND . bit.ly/40heHCq

Rachel Reeves vows to fix planning

Describing the current system as a “graveyard of economic ambition”, the new chancellor said planning reform was at the centre of Labour’s strategy going forward.

“Nowhere is decisive reform needed more urgently than in the case of our planning system,” chancellor Rachel Reeves told a crowd on Monday.

During her speech, she spoke firmly about her ambitions for the future, saying time and time again: “There is no time to waste”.

As part of her vision for the future, housing targets will be restored as part of a new, growth-focussed National Planning Policy Framework. This reformed NPPF will be consulted on before the end of the month.

She is also setting up a task force to accelerate stalled housing sites across the country.

Reeves added that she has now ended the ban on onshore wind in England and will consider bringing onshore wind back into the national infrastructure regime, effectively taking it out of the hands of local authorities.

Energy projects are to be prioritised going forward, Reeves said. She also noted that deputy prime minister Angela Rayner has committed to keeping an eye on major infrastructure projects that offer opportunities for further investment – including deciding on two data centre applications already.

Rayner is also preparing to write to local authorities, instructing them to commence rethinking Green Belt boundaries and reminding them of the requirement to have an up-to-date local plan.

Reeves has also released funds for the hiring of 300 planning officers across the country, a number that sounds good but will not even provide one new officer for every local authority (there are 317).

She stressed that this Labour government was ready to make the hard decisions when it came to helping the country grow.

“The question is not whether we want growth, but how strong is our resolve,” she said.

This includes pushing back against NIMBYS. Reeves noted that to get the country building again it needs to acknowledge that trade-offs exist, such as damaging environmental impacts.

“We will not succumb to a status quo that responds to the existence of trade-offs by always saying ‘no’,” she said. When pressed about whether she was declaring war on NIMBYs, Reeves stated that local communities would still have a role to play in deciding where housing gets built – but they need to acknowledge that the housing needs to be built.

Doubling down on the manifesto promise to build 1.5m homes over the next five years, Reeves stressed that the new government was one that “respects business, wants to partner with business, and is open for business”.

“Be in no doubt,” she added later. “We are going to get Britain building again.”

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