Budget highlights housing plans for Cambridge, Leeds and London

In last week’s Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt set out a number of measures on housing, with an emphasis on boosting housing supply in a handful of UK cities.

Expanding on announcements made last year, the Government published ‘The Case for Cambridge’, setting out its plans to grow the city in the coming decades into Europe’s ‘Science Capital’ with new homes and laboratory space.  Alongside this, a joint statement was issued from DLUHC, Defra, the Environment Agency, Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, explaining that the Government’s ongoing efforts to address water scarcity issues in the Greater Cambridge area should enable the delivery of new homes that are currently stuck in the planning system.

The Government also published plans to provide 20,000 new homes in Leeds, and to create a Euston Housing Delivery Group to deliver up to 10,000 homes in the area around the London station.  £242 million is also being provided to unlock nearly 8,000 homes at Barking Riverside and Canary Wharf.

“We…want to level up opportunity across the generations – including building more houses for young people.  We are on track to deliver over one million homes in this parliament,” Mr Hunt said.

While the Government pats itself on the back for delivering an average of just 200,000 homes a year, it is likely that 2023 and 2024 will actually see a decline in the number of new homes.  This can be attributed to more difficult market conditions in the last couple of years – but it is also down to the more hostile planning environment that the Conservatives have ushered in since late 2022.  As their fortunes have receded, the Tories have felt the need to row back on planning to save heartland seats – including that of one Jeremy Hunt, who recent polling suggests may be in trouble in his Surrey constituency.  Hence the focus on planning announcements for cities like London, Leeds and Cambridge – places where the Tory goose was cooked long ago.

Unfortunately, the Government’s recent timidity on planning will continue to cause problems with the housing supply after – as expected – the market recovers, and after – as expected – the Tories are dismissed from office.


Author: Melisa Geshteja

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