08 Nov 23

Peter Truscott casts doubts over Labour policy

The chief executive of one of the UK’s largest housebuilders has taken aim at Labour’s housebuilding policies, saying they will take years to be effective.

Peter Truscott, chief executive of £786m-turnover Crest Nicholson, told the Sunday Telegraph that he does not “expect a single house to be occupied as a result of Labour’s policies in the next five years.”

Truscott said: “”By the time the planning system is changed, local plans reflect these changes, land is bought, infrastructure is provided and legal challenges are seen off, years will fly by.”

“It will be many years until it bears fruit. We’re talking about completely changing the planning system.”

Keir Starmer last month pledged to “get Britain’s future back” by building 1.5 million homes over the next five years, “bulldozing” the planning system and constructing a wave of new settlements across England.

Planning rules would be rewritten to set out new design standards with a focus on providing “gentle urban development”, while Labour would make it easier to build on “low-quality” greenbelt such as shrubland.

Local councils would be invited to draw up proposals for the “large-scale” towns, with any affordable homes being put towards meeting their local housing targets.

Truscott however, said Starmer’s promise to increase development on so-called ‘grey belt’ land lacked detail.  

He said: “They’re not bad policies. But there’s no clear guidance on what the policy actually is. Which ‘poorer quality green belt’ can we build on?”

Truscott said that speeding up development was “virtually impossible” currently due to backlogs in the planning system and said Starmer’s announcement did not take into account the lack of resources for local authorities.

Truscott also last month criticised Labour’s decision to block Michael Gove’s amendment to the levelling up bill to reduce nutrient neutrality regulation. He said the party’s attempt to reposition itself as the party of business has ’died on the altar of short-term political posturing.

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