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What a Conservative government could mean for planning - our 10 key proposals and what their manifesto says

08 May 2015

Planning in the next ParliamentPlanning In The Next Parliament - Cover

The RTPI has published ten proposals for Planning in the next Parliament. These were developed through our policy and research work, consultation responses, and meetings with politicians from across the parties - including our six events at the annual party conferences. 

Our proposals include calling on the next Government to deliver a stable and properly resourced planning system, commit to ending the housing crisis within a generation, and provide financial incentives to reward local authorities which plan together. 

Here we  look at what a Conservative government might do in relation to each of those proposals. Our task is clearly to make the strongest possible case for the RTPI's suggestions in the coming weeks and months. 

You can read the RTPI's summary of all the Conservative party's policies with respect to planning and the built environment.

You can read the full Conservative party manifesto.

1. Stabilise the planning system to deliver housing, jobs and community wellbeing in a sustainable way.

What the Conservatives say: 

  • No major changes, except in their statement that they would ensure local people have "more control over planning" and say they will "protect the Green Belt";
  • “We will support Business Improvement Districts and other forms of business-led collaboration on high streets – giving more say to local traders on issues such as minor planning applications, cleaning and parking.”

2. Invest in local planning for a growing and sustainable economy.

What the Conservatives say: 

  • “We will find £13 billion from departmental savings, the same rate of  reduction as in this Parliament.”

This will be the backdrop to arguing our case.

Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis:

The Conservatives are planning further spending cuts as a result of their deficit reduction plan - which represents the highest cuts to public spending as a share of national income when compared to the other parties. This would see total spending cut of £2.5bn in real terms over the course of the next Parliament – rising to £11.9bn when increased debt spending and other non-departmental spending is factored in. The extension of current deficit reduction plans would therefore see overall departmental spending cuts of 7.1% by 2019-20 against 2014-15 levels.

The Conservatives have announced protected departmental spend for international development, schools and health, collectively amounting to a real increase in spending of £10.6bn by 2019-20 against 2014-15 levels. This means cuts to non-protected departments of £22.5bn (11.2%) over the same period – possibly more if planned cuts to social security spending are not fully implemented. (Source: IFS, 2015)

3. Plan to solve the housing crisis within a generation &

7. Use land held by the public sector for new housing development.


What the Conservatives say: 

  • Requirement on Councils to sell about 5% of vacant, most valuable stock and replace on one-to-one basis. Expected to raise £4.5bn per year;
  • 200,000 Starter Homes over course of next Parliament, reserved for first-time buyers and sold at 20% below market rate, exclusively for first-time buyers under 40.
  • 275,000 additional affordable homes by 2020;
  • 10,000 new homes to rent at below market rates;
  • Support locally-led Garden Cities and towns in places where communities want them;
  • Prioritise brownfield development, with an aim of ensuring that 90% of suitable brownfield sites have planning permission for housing by 2020;
  • Fund Housing Zones to transform brownfield sites into new housing, creating 95,000 new homes;
  • Fund the replacement of properties sold under the extended Right to Buy by requiring local authorities to sell off and replace their most expensive properties as they fall vacant;
  • At least double the number of custom-built and self-built homes by 2020;
  • Take forward a new Right to Build which requires councils to allocate land to local people to build or commission their own home;
  • Continue the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee until the start of 2017, extend the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme to at least 2020 to cover another 120,000 homes, and introduce a new Help to Buy ISA;
  • Help keep mortgage rates low.

4. Reward local authorities that plan together &

5. Coordinate policy by focusing on places

What the Conservatives say: 

  • “We will strengthen and improve devolution for each part of our United Kingdom in a way that accepts that there is no one-size-fits-all solution;”
  • “We will devolve far-reaching powers over economic development, transport and social care to large cities which choose to have elected mayors;”
  • We will legislate to deliver the historic deal for Greater Manchester, which will devolve powers and budgets and lead to the creation of a directly elected Mayor for Greater Manchester;”
  • “In Cambridgeshire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire East, we will pilot allowing local councils to retain 100 per cent of growth in business rates, so they reap the benefit of decisions that boost growth locally;”
  • “We will devolve further powers over skills spending and planning to the Mayor of London;”
  • “We will deliver more bespoke Growth Deals with local councils, where locally supported, and back Local Enterprise Partnerships to promote jobs and growth;”
  • “We will support locally-led garden cities and towns in places where communities want them, such as Ebbsfleet and Bicester;”
  • “We will support Business Improvement Districts and other forms of business-led collaboration on high streets.”

6.  Provide 'one-stop-shops' for individuals and small businesses.

What the Conservatives say: 

  • This is not an issue addressed in the manifesto.

7. Use land held by the public sector for new housing development &

8. Let the public know who owns land.


What the Conservatives say: 

  • “Require all local authorities to have a brownfield land register;”
  • “Create a new London Land Commission, with a mandate to identify and release all surplus brownfield land owned by the public sector;”
  • Fund Housing Zones to transform brownfield sites into new housing, creating 95,000 new homes.

9. Fund more transport infrastructure by measuring its real benefits.


What the Conservatives say: 


  • “We will deliver on our National Infrastructure Plan and respond to the  Airports Commission’s final report;”
  • “[make] sure new homes are always matched by the necessary infrastructure to support them.”

10 Improve government policy by evaluating its impact.

What the Conservatives say: 

  • Nothing on this topic.