What can we expect from a new Labour government in the World of Housing, Planning and Environment…

Comments from Claire Petricca-Riding, Head of Planning & Environment at Irwin Mitchell

Comments from Claire Petricca-Riding, Head of Planning & Environment at Irwin Mitchell


We expect there to be immediate changes to the planning system which will allow for some flexibility at an early stage in the first year.  This includes changes to the NPPF and NPPG.  We expect to see the re-introduction to mandatory housing targets which will enable confidence in the market and contribute to the 1.5 million homes which are said to be developed in the next parliament.

There will be amendments to the green belt policy which could see the easing of VSC and exceptional circumstances requirements for those areas which were previous developed and considered the “grey belt.”

It is hoped there will be additional funding for local planning authorities to bring forward local plans and developments – funding more planning officers to unlock the current constraints in the planning system.

Long term there could be a reintroduction of regional spatial planning  – whether this be at a broad regional level (North West, North East, Midlands etc as before) or the introduction of combined authorities where plans will incorporate development on a county wide level.

In the immediate term there are a significant number of infrastructure and renewable energy schemes which are awaiting approval from the secretary of state – these would be easy wins for the SoS for DNEZ (assuming this will still be Ed Miliband) given his ambition for the England and the whole of the UK to be a global leader in achieving net zero and mitigating the effects of climate change.


There will be a lot of focus on environmental issues with the introduction of GB Energy – providing clean renewable energy as a way of providing energy security for all for decades to come.  There should be the removal of the current moratorium for onshore wind in England  – paving the way for this sector to realise its potential once again.  There too will be a relaxed approach to nuclear energy but a hardening of old and gas with no new oil and gas licences in the medium to long term.

There will be a fresh look at the Environment Act 2021 and how the UK and business can meet the desired targets – especially on air quality and waste management – focusing on the circular economy to prevent and re-use waste materials.

There will be more focus on habitat protection and making ELM’s work for both the agricultural sector and the environment.

It is also clear that there will be a review of the water industry and whilst many would like to see this sector once again nationalised, in the short-term holding water companies to account and reducing pollution incidents are stated goals.


“What I want to see is properly funded local planning authorities and the Environment Agency so they can function correctly.  Planning fees should be ring fenced for the planning department with any surplus going back to the funds of that council (currently they are not so they go directly to the central funds). 

I also want some pace over perfection – we could have some easy wins which help the sector, but we should have continuous improvements instead of delayed perfection – this is what is required to get Britain building again.

All improvements should have climate change and sustainability at the heart of those decisions.”

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BDC 318 : Jul 2024