UKCW Birmingham: 1-3 October 2024 | NEC
UKCW London: 6-8 May 2025 | ExCeL


01 Jul 2024



(Photo credit: analogicus via Pixabay)


With one in three planning permissions remaining unbuilt, there is a pressing need to streamline planning processes. The next government must commit to infrastructure delivery. Increased communication with contractors, clients and trade bodies is essential to understand their operations and transform the sector. UK Construction Week urges the next government to empower the industry to excel in building safe homes. In this blog, we’ll highlight how closely the published manifestos align with our own goals. 


Conservative Party – One year approval process 

The Conservatives believe that in order for the UK to achieve ambitious infrastructure plans, the planning system must be simplified to make it easier to build faster and more efficiently. They pledge to speed up the average time it currently takes for projects to get signed off from four years to one. They will be introducing reforms to outdated EU red tape to better protect the environment while authorising the building of new homes, prisons or energy schemes.  

The infrastructure delivery reform will also ensure any requirements to offset the impact of new infrastructure and home build on an area are proportionate, not compromising the environmental outcome. The manifesto also sets out plans to reduce the cost of infrastructure allowing quicker changes to approved projects.  

The Conservatives' plans also include regularly updating National Policy Statements, refocusing the role of statutory consultees in the planning system to enhance projects based on well-defined objectives rather than fragmented requirements that cause delays, and amending the law to prevent meritless judicial reviews from wasting court time. 



(Photo credit: Ralphs_Fotos via Pixabay)


Labour Party - Planning reform to build 1.5 million new homes 

Keir Starmer and his party aim to streamline the planning processes by introducing several policies starting with immediately updating the National Policy Planning Framework and restoring mandatory housing targets. The party also plans to reform and strengthen the presumption in favour of sustainable development. 

The manifesto also outlines details on taking tough actions to ensure that planning authorities have up-to-date Local Plans. Labour will also support local authorities by funding additional planning officers, through increasing the rate of the stamp duty surcharge paid by non-UK residents. 

Strategic planning will be introduced across the country, which will provide effective new mechanisms for cross-boundary strategic planning, requiring Combined and Mayoral Authorities to strategically plan for housing growth in their area. Combined Authorities will have new planning powers along with new freedoms and flexibility to make better use of grant funding. Lastly, revamping compulsory purchase rules to expedite land assembly and site delivery, supporting development while excluding potential planning permission value from compensation will also be implemented by Labour once elected. 


Liberal Democrats – Introducing ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ Planning Permission 

When elected, the Liberal Democrats plan to streamline planning processes through several key measures aimed at enhancing efficiency and sustainability in development. One of their primary initiatives is the introduction of ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ planning permission. This policy targets developers who delay construction despite having obtained planning approval, ensuring that approved projects proceed without unnecessary hold-ups, thereby accelerating the delivery of much-needed housing and infrastructure. 

In addition, the Liberal Democrats emphasise the importance of comprehensive development by mandating that all new projects include appropriate infrastructure, services and amenities from the start. This approach integrates infrastructure and public service delivery into the planning process, ensuring that communities are well-supported and that developments contribute positively to the surrounding area. 

The party is also committed to making planning work for the natural environment and ensuring developers contribute fairly. They propose that new developments should result in significant net gains for biodiversity with up to a 100% net gain for large projects. Expanding Neighbourhood Planning across England is another priority for the Liberal Democrats. This expansion will allow local communities greater influence over development plans, ensuring that growth aligns with local needs and priorities. 



(Photo credit: Didgeman via Pixabay)


Green Party - Enhancing the role of local authorities 

The Green Party aims to transform the planning system to ensure new developments include access to public services and protect green spaces. The goal is to reduce the environmental impact of construction and require local authorities to spread small developments across their areas, rather than building large estates. Protecting the Green Belt and ensuring everyone has access to green spaces are key commitments. 

The Greens also advocate for communities to have the funding and powers to make planning decisions suited to their needs. Local authorities should have the resources to act as guardians of the land and built environment, playing a key role in place-making and place-shaping. To support this, elected Greens will push for a land use planning policy framework that balances the needs of addressing the climate emergency, protecting nature, growing food, and providing homes and energy. 

All planning applications will be required to include whole-life carbon and energy calculations, covering construction, maintenance, and operational use. 


Ambitious plans have been laid out by leaders of the major parties, but immediate action is needed from the next government. According to the Royal Town Planning Institute, the public sector planning is in a dire state, with a 16% reduction in public spending on planning since 2009. Public First found that without investment in planning, reforms and increased housing development could miss out on £70 billion. 

UK Construction Week supports the efforts outlined above and urges the next government to align their policies with the construction industry's needs. This autumn, UK Construction Week will bring together over 20,000 construction professionals from across the UK to exchange insights and address the key challenges shaping the future of the construction industry.  

Join our line-up of construction changemakers by securing your complimentary ticket here

View all UKCW Blog

Birmingham Sponsors


Previous Attendees