Labour to ease building rules and challenge ‘nimbys’, pledges Reeves

Rachel Reeves has vowed to make the “difficult decisions” needed to stimulate growth, unveiling plans to construct millions of homes and tackle “nimby” resistance.

In her inaugural speech at the Treasury on Monday, the Chancellor emphasised that there is “no time to waste” as Labour strives to enhance living standards and foster economic growth.

Labour will reinstate mandatory local housebuilding targets and relax 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 turbines. Labour aims to have these changes in place by autumn.

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

Addressing the nation, Reeves will state: “Last week, the British people voted for change. Over the past 72 hours, I have initiated the work necessary to honour that mandate.

“Our manifesto was clear: ‘Sustained economic growth is the only route to improving the prosperity of our country 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 initial steps this new government is taking to lay the economic foundations for rebuilding Britain and enhancing prosperity nationwide.”

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 to many local authorities cancelling planned housing developments, potentially reducing new home builds by 70,000 annually.

Recent statistics indicate a significant decline in housing starts and completions, with only 151,000 homes built in the year to March — a 22% decrease from 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 prioritising brownfield sites while acknowledging the necessity of utilising some green belt land.

Currently, about 13% of England’s land is designated as green belt, primarily around major cities like London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, and Sheffield. Only 7% of this — around 430 square miles — is developed. Labour’s new “grey field” classification will include areas such as car parks and green spaces lacking significant beauty or character.

Reeves will also use Treasury analysis to criticise the previous Conservative government’s economic record, highlighting that the UK’s growth lagged behind other developed nations. She will assert: “We face the legacy of 14 years of chaos and economic irresponsibility. New Treasury 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 larger, generating an additional £58 billion in tax revenues last year alone to support our public services. It falls to this new government to rectify these foundational issues.”

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Labour to ease building rules and challenge ‘nimbys’, pledges Reeves