‘Tarting up town centres and tweaking planning regulation is not enough’

Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech – delivered by HRH Prince Charles – made headlines for many reasons not least it was the first time in over 200 years that an heir to the throne delivered the address which lays out the government’s legislative agenda for the next parliamentary year.

However what did the speech and therefore does the agenda mean for property sector? TheBusinessDesk.com caught up with a number of individuals to see what they made of the announcements which included a Levelling up and Regeneration bill that provides new planning powers to local authorities, a Telecommunications Infrastructure bill focused on rolling out 5G mobile coverage and a Energy Security Bill designed to boost renewable energy, amongst other things.

Henri Murison

Henri Murison director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said that the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill wasn’t ambitious enough and called for treasury to get on board with the agenda as he said: “Tarting up town centres and tweaking planning regulation is not enough to rebalance our economy.”

Lee Bloomfield

The chief executive of Manningham Housing Association, Lee Bloomfield agreed with Murison stating he’d “hoped that the Government would show more ambition”.

Despite this feeling he said he welcomed “the prospect of measures to drive local regeneration”.

But cautioned that “the people of Bradford and Keighley have repeatedly missed out when additional resources for regeneration projects are allocated. This includes transport with the Queen’s Speech containing promises to modernise rail services but, having recently missed out on Northern Powerhouse Rail and a new station in Bradford, hopes within the communities we serve will not be high.”

James Homer, consultant at Cluttons in Leeds noted that the Planning Bill is “essentially a repeat of the bill announced in last year’s speech, which so far has failed to make any obvious progress.”

He noted that planning reforms are often a complicated and always long winded process but that “the Government hopes this Bill will make a serious dent in the chronic housing shortage.”

He added: “As ever, the devil will be in the detail. Reforming the planning system to give residents more say over local development is likely to be a vote winner in blue-wall constituencies. But the net result could be fewer houses being built in the areas of most need, which is bad news for first-time buyers, and anyone concerned about continuing house price inflation.”

Iain Jenkinson

Iain Jenkinson, co-lead UK planning team at CBRE explained that he saw the Queen’s Speech put “regional policy centre stage”.

“The emphasis on localism and localities will frame much of the detail we are expecting to see next, whether that is planning reforms, interventions on the high street or greater support for skills development. We will be examining the detail closely but Levelling Up will only succeed if it works with the market and not against, and crucially is determined far more locally than has been the track record of this Government to date.”

Max Reeves, development director at Helmsley Group, also welcomed the speech and said: “As a property development and investment company that has been operating across Yorkshire for more than 40 years, we are well aware of the importance of thriving town and city centres.

“It was therefore positive to see the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill announced in the Queen’s speech, providing an opportunity for local leaders to be empowered to regenerate our high streets, which are the heartbeat of local economies.

“An example of where this is already working in practice is in York, where we are working collaboratively with City of York Council and other stakeholders such as the University of York to develop our vision to positively revitalise Coney Street and the surrounding riverfront, including bringing empty retail units back to life, for the benefit of the city and its people.”