'We'll bulldoze restrictive planning rules and build new homes' pledge Labour after victory in Milton Keynes

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A ‘bulldozing’ of tight planning rules will be one of the first effects MK will see of having three new Labour MPs in a Labour government.

Labour has promised to reform the planning process to allow more new homes to be built after its landslide election victory last week.

Speaking to ITV News, Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer said: "We cannot go on with the system as it is. Infrastructure takes years. Housing takes years to build. We’re too slow. We’re too expensive. We’re over budget.

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"We have to take the tough decisions to get the country moving."

MK's three new Labour MPs celebrate their election victoryMK's three new Labour MPs celebrate their election victory
MK's three new Labour MPs celebrate their election victory

The move comes after fewer planning applications were submitted to Milton Keynes council last year than in any over the last decade.

Labour said it will build 1.5 million new homes over the next parliament by "bulldozing" restrictive planning rules, encouraging councils to build on brownfield sites, and identifying lower quality areas in the green belt for development, termed "grey belt".

Earlier this year MK City Council launched a plan to build 63,000 new homes in Milton Keynes, many in rural area.

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Currently the city has almost 118,000 homes and the new development will see it grow by more than 50%.

But the building of new homes depends upon planning consent, and the number of new applications in MK is dwindling.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures show the city council decided upon 1,207 planning applications in the year to March – down from 1,499 the year before, and the lowest figure of any year over the last decade.

Of these, 1,020 (85%) were granted, while 187 were refused. It meant the number of granted applications was also a decade-low.

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Across England, councils decided 333,000 planning applications, 12% down on the previous year and the lowest recorded figure in the last decade.

Of these, 285,000 (86%) were granted, meaning both the proportion and total number of accepted applications slumped to a decade-low level.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the current system is a "barrier to growth", and Labour will "put planning reform at the very centre of our economic and political argument".

There was a particular focus on housing developments in Labour's manifesto. It said it would immediately update the National Planning Policy Framework "to undo damaging Conservative changes, including restoring mandatory housing targets".

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But across the country, the number of granted planning applications for major residential developments – those which provide at least 10 residential dwellings – has fallen steadily over the last decade.

Last year, granted applications fell by 12%, slumping to the lowest level in a decade. In Milton Keynes, 23 were granted last year.

To boost housing development, Labour said it will support local authorities by funding additional planning officers, and "will not be afraid to make full use of intervention powers to build the houses we need".

However, it also pledged to ensure local communities continue to shape house building in their area.

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Their manifesto said a "brownfield first" approach would be implemented, but admitted brownfield development is insufficient to meet housing needs.

Mark Booth, co-founder of house builder Hayfield, said "tweaking the current system isn’t enough". He added: "We need to find a solution that incentivises local planning authorities to deliver housing in all areas of the country."