Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves’ pledge to reform planning and bring back mandatory local authority housing delivery targets has received the thumbs up from housebuilders.

Ms Reeves Mais described the planning system as “the single greatest obstacle” to the UK’s economic success.

“Planning dysfunction means that land is costly and inefficiently utilised, making the cost of building infrastructure in the UK significantly higher than in most developed economies, meaning higher energy prices, poorer transport, and inadequate digital connectivity,” she told an audience of bankers and financiers at the Bayes Business School.

“And it prevents housing from being built where it is most needed – contributing to ever-higher prices and falling rates of home ownership and constricting the growth of our most productive places.”

Ms Reeves said that if Labour got into power, they would put planning reform at the ‘centre’ of their economic and political argument.

“Planning reform has become a byword for political timidity in the face of vested interests and a graveyard of economic ambition. It is time to put an end to prevarication and political short-termism on this question.”

She said Labour would reintroduce mandatory local housing targets, recruit hundreds of new planners to tackle backlogs and bring forward the next generation of new towns.”

Infrastructure policy to be modernised

She said she wanted to encourage investment through a British Infrastructure Council with representatives from large UK and global investment funds and to make the Industrial Strategy Council a statutory body.

Ms Reeves promised a “once-in-a-generation overhaul” of the infrastructure regime updating national policy statements within six months of coming into office.

“Modernising the regime to reflect the types of infrastructure crucial in our changing economy and cutting red tape by embedding principles of proportionality and standardisation,” said Ms Reeves.

The National Federation of Builders, NFB, said Ms Reeves’ stance was promising and showed Labour’s commitment to removing the infrastructure and planning barriers to building new homes.

NFB policy and market insight head Rico Wojtulewicz said: “These are all clear indications that the Labour party realises where the current the current government is going wrong.

“Although speeches aren’t policies, getting governments to recognise and take barriers seriously is often half the battle and any government which welcomes those uncomfortable conversations will end up a friend of business and growth.

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders would back any reforms which cut red tape and made it easier for SME developers to build new homes.

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