The planning rules Rachel Reeves is promising to change

In her first speech as chancellor, Rachel Reeves announced a radical overhaul of the planning system.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves delivers a speech at the Treasury, to an audience of leading business figures and senior stakeholders, announcing the first steps the new Labour Government will take to deliver economic growth, in London on July 8, 2024. (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rachel Reeves delivers her speech at the treasury. (AFP via Getty Images)

Rachel Reeves used her first speech as chancellor to outline the new Labour's government's plan to kickstart the economy.

She announced a range of measures on Monday, several based around planning reform, in an effort to promote growth and "fix Britain's foundations" - funded largely by private investment.

Reeves vowed that the government would reform the planning system to "deliver the infrastructure that our country needs" and help families on to the property ladder.

One of the more eye catching announcements was bringing an immediate end to the restrictions on building new onshore wind farms.

It reverses measures brought in for England by the Conservatives in 2015 under then prime minister David Cameron. She also said that decisions on new onshore wind developments would be taken at a national level rather than locally, branding the previous ban "absurd".

Watch: Chancellor Rachel Reeves says 'We will get Britain building again'

The move is part of an overhaul of the National Planning Policy Framework, which she said would be complete by the end of the month.

She said: "As of today, we are ending the absurd ban on new onshore wind in England. We will also go further and consult on bringing onshore wind back into the nationally significant infrastructure projects regime, meaning decisions on large developments will be taken nationally, not locally.”

The chancellor's speech contained a number of pledges on housing, as part of Labour's manifesto promise to build 1.5 million new homes over the next five years.

This will involve the establishment of a new housing task force that will tackle stalled housing schemes across the country. Reeves said: "We will create a new task force to accelerate stalled housing sites in our country. Beginning with Liverpool central docks, Worcester Parkway, Northstowe and Langley Sutton Coldfield - representing more than 14,000 homes."

Separately, planning appeals for two data centres in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire are being reconsidered by deputy prime minister Angela Rayner, Reeves said.

In an indication of the challenges that lay ahead for Labour, one local Conservative MP has already complained about what he claims is the government's "top down approach".

Nigel Huddleston, Conservative MP for Droitwich and Evesham, said: "The local voice should not be ignored. While we all know we need more housing, it has to be in the right place, on the right scale and with appropriate supporting infrastructure."

Reeves committed the government to employing 300 new planning officers across the country to help local councils speed up the building process.

She said the government is not giving a “green light” to any kind of housing development.

She added: “We are not going to be in the business of building those homes directly. We need the construction sector, the housebuilding sector, to build those homes. We are not going to let people off the hook, we want affordable housing and we want housing for social rent as well. That is an important part of the mix."

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves (C) walks through the Treasury, before delivering a speech to an audience of leading business figures and senior stakeholders, announcing the first steps the new Labour Government will take to deliver economic growth, in London on July 8, 2024. (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rachel Reeves walks through the treasury before delivering her speech. (AFP via Getty Images)

Reeves announced that the government will bring back mandatory homebuilding targets in order to meet its pledge of constructing 1.5 million new homes.

It is part of an effort to strip back the bureaucracy that is holding back the housing sector.

She said: “It will still be in the first instance up to local communities and local authorities to decide where housing is built. But we will being back those mandatory housing targets and so the answer cannot always be no.

“I am not willing to accept that status quo and so we’ve got to get Britain building, and we’ve got to ensure families can get on the housing ladder.”

Part of Labour's planning reform involves reviewing green belt boundaries in order to prioritise brownfield land - previously developed land that is no longer being used - and grey belt land - poor quality areas in the green belt - for new housing.

She said: “We must acknowledge that trade-offs always exist. Any development may have environmental consequences, place pressure on services and rouse voices of local opposition, but we will not succumb to a status quo which responds to the existence of trade-offs by always saying no."

  • Rachel Reeves promises homes and economic growth in first speech as chancellor. "Rachel Reeves said she would bring back compulsory housebuilding targets and end the effective ban on onshore wind farms in England in order to fast track national infrastructure projects." [Yahoo Finance]

  • Government ditches onshore wind ban in move hailed by industry and campaigners. "Labour previously said it would overturn the ban within weeks if it came to power after the election, as it seeks to double onshore wind as part of its plans to transform the grid to clean energy by 2030." [PA Media]

  • Reeves: Public finances are in their worst state since the war. In her first speech as Chancellor, she said that Labour has inherited the “worst set of circumstances since the Second World War.” [The Telegraph]

  • Rachel Reeves is the UK’s first female chancellor. Here’s why that’s so significant. "The post of chancellor has existed for the past 800 years and, notably, has always been held by a man. Until now." [The Conversation]

  • Who is in Keir Starmer's cabinet? Meet the new Labour frontbench. "Rachel Reeves is the UK’s first female chancellor, David Lammy was named foreign secretary, Yvette Cooper is home secretary, John Healey is defence secretary and Wes Streeting is health secretary." [Yahoo News UK]

  • What we can expect from the new government's first 100 days. "Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to 'hit the ground running' with a focus on delivery from day one after returning his party to government for the first time in 14 years." [Sky News]

  • Who is Rachel Reeves, Britain’s first female chancellor? "Reeves's competitive streak defines her love of chess, which her father taught her when she was seven, giving her the 'chess bug'. She later became the British girls' under-14 champion." [Evening Standard]