Last edited 30 Oct 2013

Conservative party conference 2013

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Rebekah Paczek from Snapdragon Consulting takes a look at the Conservative Party Conference and assesses what they had to say about planning and housing.


The week at Conservative Party Conference was almost as exciting as the other two, only by this time everyone was beginning to suffer from conference fatigue. To make up for this and to keep everyone awake, the Conservatives decided to launch the limited edition ‘Maggie Bag’. So for all those fashion conscious Tories who continue to hero worship the Iron Lady, they can now have a handbag that looks exactly like hers.

On the main stage, Cameron’s speech feted the building of a land of opportunity in the UK (but only for hard-working people). It also lauded the number of children now studying ‘proper sciences’, presumably physics, chemistry and maybe the odd ‘ology’ or two. Cameron used his speech to reiterate his support for HS2 and pledged to make Blackpool the centre of Europe for shale gas exploration. I'm sure the people of Blackpool are delighted.

On the subject of planning and development, slightly spooked by the Labour Party and their freeze on energy prices, the Government brought forward the next empty housing bubble policy, sorry, I mean ‘Help to Buy’ by three months making it effective from October 7th. Unfortunately, the mortgage lenders hadn’t been informed of this so none of them are prepared to actually offer the initiative just yet.

Elsewhere, Nick Boles cheerfully declared that if he was still Planning Minister after the next General Election then he wanted someone to shoot him. Which just shows what a privilege the role is thought to be. He quickly clarified his comments saying how much he loved the role. Well obviously, who wouldn’t love spending days being harangued by the moaning development lobby and the moaning anti-development lobby in equal measure.

Eric Pickles claimed that he would support more family-friendly tenancies – although there was no indication of how this will translate in practice. Government still seems to assume that if they declare they would like something to be a particular way, then the private sector will respond. And why not, that approach has worked so well for every government to date…

Mark Prisk suggested that the whole house building industry would be much better if there were more SMEs involved. This partially links to the approach by government to reduce the procurement burden on small firms. At the same time he seemed to suggest that reform of the national planning framework is essential – let’s hope he meant that in the general sense as opposed to the NPPF itself.

So that's it, Conference season over for another year. Hasn’t it been exciting…

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