What we can expect from Labour in relation to Planning policies

United Kingdom

Following Labour's victory in yesterday's general election, significant changes are on the horizon for the UK's planning system, housing sector, energy landscape, and infrastructure development. We take a look at the key policies we can expect from the new Labour government, starting with likely immediate actions in the coming weeks to turbocharge housebuilding.

Expected immediate actions before the summer recess:

  1. Angela Rayner, as the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, is expected to publish a revised draft of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to reinstate mandatory housing targets for local authorities across England, reversing the December 2023 updates made by the previous government, and to reform and strengthen the presumption in favour of sustainable development.
  2. Rayner is expected to introduce a new housebuilding programme to support Labour’s target of building 1.5 million new homes over the next Parliament.
  3. Rayner is also expected to write to local authorities to tell them to start the process of regularly reviewing their green belt boundaries, releasing ‘lower quality’ ‘grey belt’ land for development to support house building targets.
  4. Ed Miliband, the new energy secretary, has promised to reverse the de facto ban on onshore wind farms within weeks.

Longer-term policies:

Housing and Planning:

  1. Housing targets and affordability:
    • Labour has committed to building 1.5 million new homes over the next parliament, equating to 300,000 homes per year.
    • They plan to prioritise brownfield development and fast-track approval of urban brownfield sites.
    • Where ‘grey belt’ land is used, the introduction of new ‘golden rules’ will ensure developments benefit communities and nature.
    • Labour aims to deliver more social and affordable housing through strengthened planning obligations.
    • New developments will be required to provide a higher proportion of affordable homes, with a "gold-standard target" of 40% affordable housing, including a mix of social, council, and other tenures.
    • They intend to implement solutions to unlock the building of homes affected by nutrient neutrality without weakening environmental protections.
  2. New Towns and compulsory purchase reforms:
    • Labour plans to build a new generation of New Towns, echoing those created after World War II.
    • These developments will be subject to a "New Towns Code" with high standards for design, quality, affordable homes, green spaces, and infrastructure.
    • Labour has pledged to build new towns alongside urban extensions and regeneration projects.
    • They also plan to reform compulsory purchase compensation rules to improve land assembly and deliver housing, infrastructure, and transport benefits in the public interest.
    • Labour aims to abolish "hope value" in compulsory purchase orders for specific types of development schemes.
  3. Strategic planning and local decision-making:
    • Labour has committed to appointing 300 new planning officers and introducing cross-boundary strategic planning.
    • There will be a new requirement for combined and mayoral authorities to strategically plan for housing.
    • Labour plans to transfer more power from Westminster to communities through landmark devolution legislation.
    • They intend to introduce a new statutory requirement for Local Growth Plans covering towns and cities across the country.
    • Labour has pledged to take "tough action" to ensure planning authorities have up-to-date local plans, potentially including sanctions for those failing to update them.

Energy and Climate:

  1. Clean energy targets:
    • Labour aims to achieve clean energy by 2030, introducing a new Energy Independence Act to establish the framework for their energy and climate policies.
    • Labour plans to work with the private sector to double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind by 2030.
  2. Nuclear and traditional energy sources:
    • Labour intends to support the completion of Hinkley Point C and new nuclear power stations such as Sizewell C.
    • They plan to maintain a strategic reserve of gas power stations but will not issue new licenses for oil field exploration or grant new coal licenses.
    • Labour has committed to banning fracking permanently.
  3. Public ownership and investment:
    • Labour will create a new publicly-owned company, Great British Energy, to deliver clean power by co-investing in leading technologies.
    • They plan to capitalise Great British Energy with £8.3 billion over the next Parliament.
  4. Funding and taxation:
    • Labour intends to extend the windfall tax on oil and gas companies until the end of the next parliament and increase the rate of the levy.
    • Labour has earmarked £1 billion to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture and £500 million to support the manufacturing of green hydrogen.


  1. Strategic planning:
    • Labour plans to develop a ten-year infrastructure strategy, aligned with their industrial strategy and regional development priorities.
    • They will create a new National Infrastructure and Service Transformation Authority to set strategic infrastructure priorities and oversee project delivery.
  2. Transport:
    • Labour has pledged to bring British railways under public ownership as contracts with existing operators expire or are broken.
    • Mayors will have a duty to promote and grow the use of rail.
  3. Energy infrastructure:
    • Labour intends to work with industry to upgrade national transmission infrastructure and "rewire Britain".
    • They plan to set out new national policy statements and streamline processes to build support for energy developments.
  4. Digital and industrial infrastructure:
    • Labour aims to update national planning policy to make it easier to build digital infrastructure, laboratories, and gigafactories.
    • Labour plans to remove planning barriers to new data centres to support the development of the AI sector.

It’s good to see planning at the heart of Labour’s agenda for this new Parliamentary term, but while there are some big promises in their manifesto whether these really will generate the step change that Labour has promised will, as always, come down to the detail. As the new government settles in, we can expect to see these promises begin to take shape through legislation, policy updates, and new initiatives – with a big focus on policy in the first 100 days. If Labour’s promises are to come to fruition, the planning, housing, energy, and infrastructure landscapes in the UK are likely to undergo significant changes in the coming months and years, with a focus on increased housing delivery, affordability, clean energy transition, and strategic development.

Article co-authored by Grace Owen-Ellis, Trainee Solicitor, and Caroline Stares, Senior Associate at CMS.