What Impact will The Queen’s Speech have on UK Construction Industry?
Updated: Jun 9, 2021
As the country looks to recover following the impact of COVID-19, the Queen's Speech earlier this month had a lot for the construction industry to consider. In total, 31 bills were presented to parliament which covered infrastructure and planning as well as ongoing building reforms and how to combat the skills shortage in our industry. There were also a number of bills required following our departure from the European Union.
We are particularly interested in rumoured and proposed changes to the planning system in England and would welcome positive reform in this area.
The White Paper Planning for the Future (first launched in August 2020) accurately argues that the planning system in England is “outdated and ineffective” so proposes major reforms to this area.
Santhosh Gowda, Chairman of Strawberry Star, commented on this, saying: “modernising the UK's time-honoured planning laws was never going to be easy, but the idea of a dynamic, flexible and digitalised system is an exciting prospect.”
He continued to say: "it will be a balancing act that seeks to boost housing supply without compromising on design, community, and ecology.”
The Bill will be a step towards a more Americanised zonal system that places greater emphasis on community engagement in the plan-making stage and provides a national and local design code that sets the parameters for what can be built in certain areas.
Chief Executive Officer of Powered Now, Ben Dyer is hoping to see a simpler approach based on pre-set rules rather than the decision of a committee for a faster decision making and appeals process. "All county councils should have a clear housing and development policy with greater transparency on what can, and can't be…this policy should focus on protecting green spaces by relaxing planning rules on brownfield land and should include simpler planning for renovations to existing buildings.” He added that “the rules should be relaxed for homeowners who simply wish to improve their own houses.”
Others are calling for the Government to make a concerted effort on the aesthetic of homebuilding in the UK. A ‘carrot and stick’ approach could be created to reward housing developers who build beautiful, outstanding and unique buildings within well thought-out communities with plenty of parking, green space and communal facilities such as schools. A penalty system could equally be created to discourage the building of generic, ugly or out of character developments.
After the collapse of the Green Homes Grant, surely all plans going forward should ensure that new buildings are developed with energy production and efficiency at the heart of the design process. If the UK is to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050, this is crucial.
Other areas included:
Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill to extend 5G mobile coverage
A bill covering ground rents on future lease agreements which looks to set future ground rents to zero in the 2021-22 session
A Subsidy Control Bill to support private companies, as the UK has now left the "state aid" regime run by the European Union
The Procurement Bill will replace EU rules on how the British government buys services from the private sector
New powers to build and operate the next stage of the HS2 high-speed rail line are contained in the High Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill
A tenants reform bill which looks at issues such as lifetime deposits and landlord redress