The Labour Party has announced that they will be bringing forward ‘grey belt’ classifications on some green belt sites that are appropriate for release or not green, and instilling ‘Golden Rules’ alongside them to secure planning certainty and good placemaking.

Richard Beresford, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said: “Prioritising grey belt and pairing it with golden rules would ensure greenspace loss is mitigated, vital supporting infrastructure is delivered and both builders and local people getting planning and placemaking certainty. It’s a win for all parties which is why we support it.”

Labour’s five ‘Golden Rules’ are:

Brownfield first
⁠Grey belt second
Affordable homes
Boost public services and infrastructure
Protect genuine green space
The focus will be on ensuring grey belt sites deliver as many community benefits as possible, such as schools and GP surgeries, with local leaders, rather than only quangos, deciding what is needed.

Affordable housing targets will be strengthened, and developments should serve to increase access to nature, so that housebuilding and nature are compatible.

Rico Wojtulewicz, Head of Policy, and Market Insight at the NFB and House Builders Association (HBA), said:

“The devil will always be in the detail, but Labour appears to understand that placemaking requires input and support from all quarters and that the housebuilder’s job is to build the homes, not control what infrastructure is required, how offsite nature links up to a new development and why a site is allocated for new homes.

A grey belt also suggests some greenbelt reassessment, something even Conservative backbenchers have been calling for, but the Government keeps dismissing.

Alongside other announcements and discussions, such as reforming compulsory purchase and having more onsite biodiversity opportunities, it feels as though we have a political party which understands the problems planning uncertainty causes for housebuilders, communities, nature, and society at large.”