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General Election 2017: Industry reacts as Conservatives form government with DUP support

Words: Laura Edgar
Prime Minister Theresa May / Shutterstock

Interested parties have responded to the General Election vote, which has seen the Conservatives form a government with support from the Democratic Unionists, and the housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell lose his Croydon Central seat.

At this time of uncertainty, the Royal Town Planning Institute is calling on the next government to invest in and utilise the expertise of planners "to create an inclusive, economically successful and resilient society, during and after Brexit negotiations".

The institute has said that planners are "vital" to making places across the UK that have the right jobs, homes and infrastructure. The government, the RTPI continued, needs to recognise the value of UK planners, invest in educating a skilled built environment workforce, and allow for people with the best skills to continue to come in to the UK to support the construction of the housing and infrastructure we need.

Government urged to hit ground running


Kate Henderson, chief executive at the Town and Country Planning Association, said that while Brexit negotiations will be the top priority for the government, it is “essential” that they focus on issues that matter to people’s quality of life, such as tackling the housing crisis, inequality and climate change resilience.

“Our recent research highlights that the housing crisis effects communities across the UK with 98 per cent of councils describing the need for affordable housing in their local areas as severe or moderate. The TCPA urges the new government to hit the ground running on the real priorities for the country, pressing housing need and climate change.”

Result may compound period of unpredictability


The election outcome has not only resulted in overall government instability, particularly given the likely minority government which may prove to be difficult for the country as a whole, said Dominick Veasey, associate director at Nexus Planning, “but also a continuation of unhelpful uncertainty within the planning system”.

“With the planning industry already enduring delays after the policy proposals included in the housing white paper, this election result may serve to compound this period of unpredictability.”

Referring to Gavin Barwell losing his seat, Veasey said that May’s position looking “precarious” and that it is “far from clear” who will emerge in the role of planning minister.

“For now, all we can hope is that clarity on all fronts is swift.”


DUP a ‘climate pariah’


James Orr, Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland Director, said: “Under the DUP leadership Northern Ireland has become a wild west for the environment. Northern Ireland is the dirty corner of the UK with some of the biggest illegal waste sites and mines in Europe. The pro-fracking DUP is a climate pariah.”

He said that when clear leadership is needed they are “muddled” over Brexit.

“Their manifesto had hardly a positive word on the environment and nothing at all on climate change. Theresa May must not allow the DUP to further weaken her already inadequate manifesto commitments to maintain environmental protections and preserve nature.”


Stable renewable policy framework needed


All of the main political parties recognise the urgent need to provide clean, affordable power for UK consumers, said Hugh McNeal, chief executive at RenewableUK.

“These technologies are delivering for today’s energy bill-payers. But the renewable industry always has its eye on the horizon, and it is looking to power economic growth, innovation and job creation, at the centre of our future energy system.

“To maintain our world-beating offshore, onshore and wave and tidal sectors, we urge the government to ensure a stable policy framework. With relatively simple support, in these unprecedented political times, renewable energy stands ready to deliver.”


Voters seduced by Corbyn promises


The last thing the London housing market needs right now is more uncertainty, said Julian Goddard, partner and head of residential at Daniel Watney LLP.

He said house prices are stagnating and transactions falling, and without knowing the future direction of travel buyers and sellers are likely to hold off, compounding the problem.

"No doubt many voters were seduced by Jeremy Corbyn's promises on housing, including rent caps and mass house building by local authorities, but the reality is most of his promises are unrealistic at best or dangerous at worst.

“Countless cities across the world have experimented with rent controls, and they have all ended with less and poorer quality rental homes. Meanwhile big question marks hang over whether councils have the capacity, resources or know-how to return to house-building as major players."


Result reflect damage of Tory welfare policies


Mary Taylor, chief executive at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), said the election results “reflect some degree of recognition of the damage that the Conservatives’ welfare policies are having on vulnerable people”.

Taylor said that SFHA wants to see a system that is “more humane and compassionate – a system that isn’t too quick to punish but too slow to support”.

“We want to see those who can, supported and helped into work – not punished for being part of the process.

“Negating the impact of welfare reforms will be a priority for SFHA as will other reserved matters, and we look forward to working with elected members.”

Read more:

General Election 2017: Planning minister Barwell loses his seat

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