Politics Continue to Hamper UK Land Development

uk land development

Ask any developer who has struggled to get a project off the ground in the first place and they will tell you the same:

The politics involved in developing land (particularly where residential developments are concerned) are both unnecessarily complicated and dangerously outdated.

Quite often, the time it takes from Local Plan allocation to actually breaking ground on a building site can be longer than the four-year term of a political party or prime minister. Short-term political thinking and various other issues can delay or completely derail projects along the way, resulting in many developers facing a practically insurmountable brick wall.

This is something that is hampering vast swathes of the property development sector across the country and continues to be demonstrated on a regular basis.

It was almost exactly a year ago that Boris Johnson (prior to the two quickest Prime Ministerial transitions in British history) said in no uncertain terms that he would not give his support to Greenfield development.

After which, Local Plans all over the place were brought to a screeching halt and all manner of planned developments were put on ice indefinitely. This was followed by the scrapping of the Planning Bill a few months later and further delays were encountered when Boris Johnson was forced to quit his job in a humiliating fashion, and a new leadership race began.

While all this was going on, developers spoke openly about their reluctance to commence or even plan any ambitious projects in the meantime. The reason was that they were fully aware of the Tory leadership contenders’ positions on the Green Belt and didn’t want to see their plans laid to waste after investing in them.

As things stand, countless Local Plans are currently in limbo up and down the UK, due to the contentious issue of nutrient neutrality which requires a political decision. Elsewhere, areas that were once allocated for growth, including the Oxford Cambridge Arc have also been shelved penning government decisions on issues like housing targets, sustainable transport links and more.

Where issues like these remain, local politics are making it difficult for any progress to be made. Residents are sceptical (if not completely resistant) to the idea of broad-scale development and the politicians representing them don’t want to risk putting a foot wrong, and putting their job in jeopardy.

Planning and implementing development projects across the UK have been influenced by politics since the Town and Country Planning Act was first introduced in 1947. The problem is that since then, the whole thing has become increasingly complex and fragmented, resulting in a system where the preferences of local government often go completely against the targets of the national government.

Many have voiced their support for the return of the National Infrastructure Committee and for a more ‘infrastructure first’ approach to property development projects. This would lead to a system that focuses collectively on infrastructure, housing, energy and climate change in a de-politicised environment, enabling the acceleration of residential property developments when needed.

Not dissimilar to the systems of the Netherlands or Germany, where strategic planning decisions are made via a unified national plan.

Still, given the political turmoil that continues to plague parliament, it is highly unlikely that any decisions of such a contentious nature will be made at any time in the near future. If anything, the complications and disruptions being experienced by developers are only set to intensify, just as long as the government believes it has more important matters to focus on.

For more information on any of the above or to discuss the benefits of the financial services that we offer in more detail, contact a member of the team at developmentfinance.com today.