Work to ease building regulations and challenge “nimbys,” Reeves promises

Rachel Reeves has vowed to make the “tough decisions” needed to stimulate growth, revealing plans to build millions of homes and tackle “nimby” opposition.

In his opening speech at the Treasury on Monday, the Chancellor stressed there was “no time to waste” as Labor strives to improve living standards and promote economic growth.

Labor will reintroduce mandatory local house building targets and drop planning restrictions on developing “ugly” parts of the green belt, now dubbed the “grey belt” by Sir Keir Starmer. A new draft national planning policy framework, to be released before the parliamentary recess in August, will also lift the effective ban on new onshore wind farms. Labor aims to have these changes in place by the autumn.

Reeves will focus on growth as a central theme on Labour’s agenda following its landslide election victory. Economists predict that Labor will need to either raise taxes or cut public spending to balance the budget. Starmer has dismissed these forecasts as “defeatist” and “cynical” and claims Labor will beat growth expectations.

Addressing the nation, Reeves said: “Last week the British people voted for change. Over the last 72 hours I have begun the work necessary to honor that mandate.

“Our manifesto was clear: ‘Sustained economic growth is the only way to improve our country’s prosperity and the living standards of working people.’ Where previous governments have hesitated, I will act decisively. This is now a national mission. There is no time to waste.

“I want to outline the first steps this new government is taking to lay the economic foundations to rebuild Britain and increase prosperity across the country.”

Labour’s policy will overturn controversial planning changes introduced last year by Michael Gove, which allowed councils to disregard housing targets to protect local character or green belt areas. These changes led many local authorities to suspend planned housing developments, potentially reducing new housing construction by 70,000 per year.

Recent statistics indicate a significant drop in housing starts and completions, with just 151,000 homes built in the year to March – down 22% on the previous year.

Starmer and Reeves have committed to building 1.5 million homes during this parliamentary term. The planning reforms, led by Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner and Planning Minister Matthew Pennycook, aim to defy stagnant growth forecasts by prioritizing brownfield sites while acknowledging the need to use some green belt.

Currently, around 13% of England’s land is designated as green belt, mainly around major cities such as London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. Only 7% of this – about 430 square kilometers – is being developed. Labour’s new ‘grey field’ classification will include areas such as car parks and green spaces that lack significant beauty or character.

Reeves will also use the Treasury’s analysis to criticize the previous Conservative government’s economic performance, highlighting that Britain’s growth was lagging behind other developed countries. She will argue: “We are facing the legacy of 14 years of chaos and financial irresponsibility. New financial analysis I requested reveals the lost opportunities from this failure.

“Had the UK economy grown at the average rate of OECD countries since 2010, it would have been over £140 billion bigger and generated an extra £58 billion in tax revenue last year alone to support our public services. It is up to this new government to put right to these basic questions.”

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