A Conservative approach to development

Arnie Craven

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The General Election is almost upon us!

In a series of six blog posts by Local Dialogue over the next two weeks, we will consider what impact the end of the coalition could have on the development industry by outlining the three key policies of the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and a few others who could also have an impact on Westminster come May.

This week, we begin with the Conservatives.

Often seen as the most anti-regulation and pro-development of the three main parties, the Conservatives appear to be moving away from cutting red tape and ‘the localism agenda’, and towards embracing the role of the state as a driver of growth and development – whether they’re putting their foot down or applying the handbrake.

That is not to say that the Conservatives have abandoned their support for individual action as a key element in generating economic growth – they continue to strongly support the ‘Right to Buy’ of council houses. But rather than entering the election period with a bank of free market policies, 2015 will see the Conservative Party embrace the ‘enabling state’.

KEY CONSERVATIVE POLICY AREAS

Brownfield regeneration
High on the list of Conservative priorities is promoting regeneration of derelict brownfield sites. This regeneration would be driven by new housing starts, and supported through state action on areas like mortgage deposits and Stamp Duty holidays.

Supporting social housing
In something of a volte-face from their policies in the 1980s and 1990s, the Conservatives will go into the 2015 election proposing a significant increase in support for social housing providers. This policy is indicative of the ‘enabling state’ approach we expect the Conservatives to continue to embrace: the state supporting the construction of social housing, which could move into the private sector at a later date.

Energy
When it comes to renewable energy, it is fair to expect that a Conservative majority government would look very closely at the current support given to renewable projects, and refocus subsidies towards more traditional energy sources along with hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Arnie Craven