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Election Digest: Making a splash

Reflections

Sir Ed Davey might have struggled to balance on his paddle board in Windemere this week, but Sunak’s national service announcement and news of prominent MPs standing down made the real splash…

Angela Leadsom, Michael Gove, John Redwood and scores of other MPs said they won’t face the electorate this time around. Up a creek without a paddle?

While the polls have remained steady since, keep an eye on the row over Dianne Abbott’s candidacy, which will cause a few headaches for Starmer in the coming days.

This week, we detail the major updates for the built environment, hear what’s going on in the regions and take a deep dive into the potential impact on life science real estate. 

Concrete plans…

Our top five built environment updates for the week:

🗳️ – UK Green Building Council’s Simon McWhirter claimed the built environment election will be the sector’s biggest opportunity to push for a greener, more equitable and infinitely more prosperous industry.

🎉 – SCAPE’s report found elections are ultimately good news for the construction and property industries, with infrastructure prioritised and pledges for new roads, school places and hospital beds, not to mention new homes.

📈 – Reporting from UKREiiF, Building Magazine said attendees felt the election could not come soon enough, with a market uplift expected under a new government and the industry calling for a “boring, predictable, and stable government”.

🏠 – Staying in Leeds, Angela Rayner revealed Labour’s plan to choose sites for new towns and proposals for a new developer code when bringing them forward, which included a 40% target on social and affordable homes.

📍 – The government announced an agreement to introduce new technology to “speed up the planning process”, which will pave the way for new software designed to “unblock development”. We also saw a series of significant changes to planning enforcement introduced by the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act, which has just come into force.

Local lowdown

Midlands – The Red Wall is coming back. Seats which became blue post-Brexit like Bolsover and Ashfield look like they’ll revert to being Labour strongholds once more. Rumblings of discontent in traditional Conservative safe seats like Gainsborough and Stratford-on-Avon are more telling. These seats didn’t even return a Labour MP in the 1997 election, but Labour could be in with a chance of winning there.

East of England – The East is throwing out some spanners as candidates fall into place and incumbent MPs either push on or resign. This week, stalwart Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing’s Epping Forest seat became available, with runners including former Transport SpAd Simon Jones, No10 boss Will Tanner and Epping Forest District Councillor Holly Whitbread. 

South West – The region is experiencing nostalgia as the Liberal Democrats battle to take many of the rural seats they used to hold. What feels more modern is the Green’s challenge to Labour in at least one of our cities. Over the weekend in Bristol, Green candidate Carla Denyer spent more on social media adverts than any other candidate in the country, she also managed to get three rounds of leaflets through doors.

London – Arguments over whether Diane Abbott can stand as a Labour MP are set to carry on, while former Labour Jeremy Corbyn launched his campaign to fight Islington North as an Independent. We had confirmation that several sitting MPs won’t be re-standing in the General Election. Some long-established Councillors have thrown their hat into the ring in seats where Labour are seen as the favourite, including Leader of Camden Georgia Gould who has just been announced as Labour’s candidate for Queen’s Park and Maida Vale.

South East – Campaign announcements on national service and the triple lock are a direct attempt to shore up the supporter base with more policy announcements likely on the way. Outside of major cities, the main Home County challenge will be the Lib Dems. Cons candidates are hoping attacking Labour policies (Green belt and the proposed introduction of VAT on schools) will successfully squeeze the Lib Dem vote, returning more Conservative MPs in the South East than predicted.

North – Earlier this year, the Fabian Society identified Labour’s top targets across the country, with the NW making up half of the top 10, in constituencies like Burnley and Bury North. Starmer said an incoming Labour government would work closely with regional mayors and may even bring them into Cabinet meetings. That sort of collaborative approach certainly offers plenty of promise for the North West in particular.

Scotland  Scotland will prove key in Sunak and Starmer’s campaigns, with both pinning hopes the SNP will lose their grip after a tough year for the nationalists. It has prompted John Curtice to predict “severe losses” for the SNP, with Labour looking likely to win the most seats.

Wales  A Conservative wipeout in Wales is predicted, with speculation it could be their worst results since 97′ and 01′ when they failed to take any seats. Whilst the daffodil picture seems rosy on the face of it for Labour in Wales, First Minister Vaughan Gething will soon face a vote of no confidence in the Senedd. Watch this space, especially with Plaid Cymru launching its party campaign today…

Sector spotlight – Life sciences

Buoyant sectors like life sciences will play a key role for all major parties as they bet big on delivering growth to create fiscal headroom, seeking to convert our world-class research clout into valuable economic output.

But with tight constraints on available lab space and infrastructure, the UK risks becoming less competitive on the global stage…

What the parties are saying:

LAB – Labour’s Prescription for Growth whitepaper aims to position the party as a ‘reliable partner’ by reforming restrictive planning rules to get them built and increasing R&D spending to 3% of GDP. Bringing lab clusters under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Regime in England and creating a new National Development Management Policy will seek to tip the scales in favour of new lab space. The paper also outlined plans to tackle housing shortages in life science clusters to make it easier for skilled workers to move.

CON – Underpinned by a 10-point framework, Sunak set out plans for the UK to become a science superpower by 2030, backed by over £370 million in new government funding. The government aims to create the right conditions for industry innovation and world-leading scientific research to deliver high-paid jobs, grow the economy in cutting-edge industries, and improve people’s lives from better healthcare to security. Although rejoining the Horizon science programme was a shot in the arm for the sector, the sclerotic planning system is still holding back innovation.

LD – The Liberal Democrats are the self-described party of “health creation”, with plans to drive up investment in science and tech and more R&D tax credits to eye up wealth creation. They are calling for more pressure on pension funds to properly invest in innovative UK companies, and Ed Davey’s five-year plan to improve NHS cancer outcomes will likely have a significant impact on the built environment.

GRN – The Greens recognise the pivotal role science and innovation can play in society, notably in the UK’s energy transition and the need for proper funding. The party will pledge to increase public spending on R&D to at least 1% of GDP, with funding allocated through research councils to projects investigating threats of ecocide, catastrophe and human extinction. 

 

Keep a beady eye out for…

  • 30 May – Dissolution of Parliament; Launch of Green Party and Plaid Cymru campaigns
  • 7 June – Deadline for candidate nominations 
  • 18 June – Voter registration deadline

That’s all for now, we’ll be back with more next week.

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