Scottish Government urged to ‘revisit housebuilding plans’ in light of Labour government

Scottish Government urged to 'revisit housebuilding plans' in light of Labour government

Claire Monaghan

The Scottish Government should revisit its housebuilding plans in response to the new UK government to avoid “falling behind”, a major business has said.

In her first first speech as Chancellor, Rachel Reeves announced the UK government’s new mandatory housebuilding targets for England as well as revealing plans for the loosening of planning rules to support housing targets.

Claire Monaghan, partner and head of real estate and construction in Scotland at RSM UK, said the speech “sends a clear message that they are committed to restimulating the housing market and supporting long-term growth by building 1.5m homes in England”.

She continued: “Planning is however a devolved matter in Scotland. While the SNP manifesto includes key pledges on infrastructure investment, a focus on housing appears to be missing despite there being a widely recognised housing crisis.

“This is seeing renters stay in the rental market longer. With the latest ONS rent figures in June showing that average rents in Scotland increased by 9.3% on the previous year, and average rents in Edinburgh increased by over 15%.

“The new Housing (Scotland) Bill was also recently published which includes proposals for long-term rent controls which makes investment in the sector less attractive.”

Ms Monaghan added: “We repeatedly hear of the challenges faced by developers and planning reform is critical to resolving the housing crisis, with progressive thinking and an appropriate pipeline of stock including affordable housing.

“Investment in infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools, is important, but consideration has to be given to where staff, required to support these institutions, will reside.

“While it will take time for the Chancellor’s targets to be delivered in the UK, there is a risk that Scotland falls notably behind without similar targets and loosening of planning rules.

“The construction sector has had a tumultuous few years and it is likely without change in Scotland we will see a shift in investment focus to England as developers will have less red tape to navigate and will be able to see much needed returns. This is a divide the Scottish economy cannot afford.”

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