Liz Truss UK Government c House of Commons

Elizabeth Truss MP will officially take on the role of Prime Minister on 6 September. Credit: House of Commons, CC BY 3.0

Liz Truss becomes Prime Minister: Property industry reacts

Truss needs to hit the ground running if she hopes to deliver on her campaign promise to double down on levelling up the country, according to leaders in the built environment.

In a tighter victory than had been expected, favourite Liz Truss beat Rishi Sunak for the top government spot. Truss claimed 81,326 votes during the Conservative Party leadership contest, while Sunak garnered 60,399.

Throughout her campaign, Truss promised to have 300,000 new homes built every year in the UK if she was elected. She also pledged to bring back the Northern Powerhouse Rail project and construct an HS2 line between Manchester and Leeds.

Planning priorities

The key to achieving the new Prime Minister’s goals could lie in planning reform, according to Royal Town Planning Institute chief executive Victoria Hills. Her remarks come after a recent RTPI report revealed local authorities have reduced spending on planning by 43% within the last decade.

Hills said: “During her race to Prime Minister, Liz Truss pledged to double down on levelling up and spark a new industrial revolution. But she’ll need to make immediate progress with planning reform in her first weeks in office if she wants to achieve these goals…

“While we agree with Liz Truss that our planning system is imperfect, complex and faces significant challenges, planners cannot be expected to do more with less in perpetuity,” Hills continued.

“Particularly in a time of high inflation, we need a timely responsive planning service, but this can only be achieved if it is appropriately resourced.

“Planning is one of the most important functions that local authorities have to improve resident’s lives. Without better quality planning services, communities will miss opportunities to level up, deliver vital housing, improve health outcomes and tackle climate change.”

Danny Crump, director of urbanism at Broadway Malyan, echoed Hill’s remarks.

Crump said: “Who knows what will happen to Boris’s promised ‘Levelling Up’ under new leadership. But by taking up the mantle of community-led urban regeneration and high street revitalisation, especially in the current climate of soaring costs and high inflation, a new-look government can support the growth of local jobs and the recovery of city and town centre commerce while delivering the regional revival promised under the original policy.

“For this to work though, Truss must focus where the British people live, work and play,” Crump said.

“While the high street has suffered a decline in recent years, a new system of devolved regional planning control could revolutionise town and city centres across the North West, Yorkshire and the North East, and could mark the foundation on which our most disaffected regions are rebuilt.”

Housing must be a focus

James Blakey, planning director at Moda Living, wants Truss to zero-in on the lack of homes in the country.

“Now that the new Prime Minister has been announced after weeks of uncertainty, we hope to see Liz Truss work with the UK residential sector to address the appalling lack of suitable homes in the UK, across the spectrum of tenures, requirements and price points,” he said.

“The spotlight on the shortage of rental homes in particular is evidence that the government has been too preoccupied with home ownership and must more enthusiastically embrace professionally managed, institutionally funded rental living products such as build-to-rent or single-family housing,” Blakey continued.

“With more support on planning, land and delivery, it can relieve the existing pressure on the UK rental market.”

James Hyman, head of residential at Cluttons, also felt like housing needs to be a priority.

“In order to alleviate the UK’s housing shortage, the government needs to look at reinstating tax allowances and incentives for private landlords to encourage them back into the market,” Hyman said.

“The main reason why rents have escalated so quickly over the last two years has been lack of supply, which has been driven by so many private landlords being forced to exit the market due to the government no longer making it viable to be a private landlord.

“Furthermore, to help meet the country’s current housing supply requirements, the new Prime Minister needs to address the huge post-pandemic, planning consent bottleneck within local authorities.”

Transport is key

Steve Hogg, head of the North West at JLL, meanwhile said that Truss’s focus needs to be on transport.

“Businesses in the North West will be hoping Liz Truss’ confirmation as Prime Minister signals a return to the priorities set out by this government in 2019,” Hogg said.

“Firms in the region need to see a strong commitment to investing in the region’s public transport system – especially at a time when connections to the capital are under strain – healthcare and its fast-growing digital and tech sectors, but they’ll also be hoping Andy Burnham is given more power to deliver on his manifesto pledges.

Only by recommitting to engaging with and listening to business and civic leaders across the North West, will we see true progress on the levelling up agenda.”

The environment cannot wait

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said that green reform in the form of a retrofit strategy needs to be at the top of Truss’s agenda.

“The UK is fronting an unprecedented energy crisis with over 12 million households facing fuel poverty,” Berry said.

“This dire and unsustainable situation requires immediate commitment to a long-term national retrofit plan to insulate our 29 million homes to cut energy consumption and reduce bills.”

He added later: “Liz Truss has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform our existing homes to help ensure everyone has a place they can afford to heat.

“A national retrofit strategy also offers the opportunity to create thousands of new jobs and deliver growth in every village, town, and city. The energy crisis needs a green revolution, but this requires bold leadership, so I’m looking to Liz Truss to deliver.”

Breaking point

Now is the time for Truss to unite the Conservative Party and deliver on the previous administration’s levelling up policies, according to Vu.City chief executive Jamie Holmes.

“Levelling up featured in neither candidates’ campaigns and reneging on promises to ‘level up’ left-behind towns and cities, coupled with a spate of political scandals, is the perfect recipe for distrust and disillusionment,” Holmes said.

“Creating a disconnect between politicians and voters could make the Conservatives fundamentally unelectable, marking the end of their 12-year reign.

Holmes continued: “The Conservative Party must heal the rifts created by the leadership battle – Truss and Sunak tore each other apart like children in the playground – but now must have an eye on the bigger picture. The government needs to sharply refocus on levelling up or risk breaking the trust of the nation for good.”

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Lets hope she does stick to her word of delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail in full and constructing an high-speed line between Manchester and Leeds. Doubt it though – can’t trust a word them lot say

By Verticality

The north will not forgive her if NPR is not built in full, including an underground station for Manchester

By Levelling Up Manager

Looking forward to Truss’ take on squaring the housing need versus local votes circle. Not holding out for anything of substance.

By now

Didn’t she say a train from Liverpool to Hull via Manchester and Leeds?

By Elephant

Hopefully that wretched party have just elected their last leader for the next 30 years. As usual we need at least a decade to repair the country after another damaging decade of Tories.

Anyone who is proud of and loves Britain would not support the Conservatives currently.

By Anonymous

Are Liverpool city council not going to fight to have a piece of HS2? It’s great that Leeds will get a piece of the pie but I was under the assumption that the rail-line would also stretch to Liverpool. This is so depressing. What is going on with Liverpool? Where’s the fight to get things done?

By Anonymous

What Liz Truss is clear on is what she has said about clarifying her policies, which from a policy perspective has been clarified, repeatedly.

Oh and something about tax cuts.

By Leadership Clarity

She had better get the North on board again especially that famous red wall otherwise she really will condemn the country to socialism again and we all know how that ended last time.

By Anonymous

Truss and Sunak were both terrible choices. She just speaks political gibberish with unconvincing Thatcherisms thrown in to sway those too dull-minded to not understand no-one but the institutionalised Whitehallians think Thatcher was great, or even competent. Their obsession with dragging us all back to Victorian values has cast us into yet another deep recession. if this woman brought back chimney sweeps and workhouses, I’d not be surprised.

By (Not so) Common Sense

HI ya Anonymous: So what did “socialism” (I think you mean a few years of a sensible socio-market economy as in Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, etc.) do the country last time? Do you mean caused the banking and capital market system to collapse and nearly destroy the country, if Brown and Darling hadn’t saved all our skins?

By James Yates

Oh yes agree, she’d best pull her finger out quick or we’ll be back in the dark ages of the Labour Party and a country more bankrupt than it is already. I can feel the Great eye of Jeremy Corbyn awaking in the east!

By Red wall breaker

HS2 right across the country east to west. Ok little chance of that but certainly more commitment to the North . Nobody outside the average Guardian reader would like a return to the hardcore socialist ideals of previous incumbents but we do need more than political posturing by sending a few thousand civil servants north one day.

By James Mates

Is there anyone alive who still thinks Thatcher was good for this country. She presided over a 250 billion pound windfall from North Sea oil, which paid to keep 3 and a half million people unemployed. Her policies dismantled once Great industrial towns and turned them into wastelands, her obsession with service industries, is why we are unable to even make masks during a pandemic. The woman was clueless. There are people out there who think her era was a golden age. Maybe if you lived in Esher.

By Elephant

She’s hardly mentioned levelling up, and the limited resources available will be an easy target for cuts. Thatcherism meant letting old industries die and hoping the market replaced them – it didn’t, at least not in the former ind areas. In Germany regional policy meant retraining and investment, and that is why their specialist manufacturing and skill base is so strong now. Fingers crossed but don’t have much hope.

By Peter Black

How about increasing the supply of council housing? That would solve a lot of issues. So much housing benefit is going straight to private landlords, helping prop up unaffordable private rents

By Tom R.

Let’s hope she finally takes a sledgehammer to bureaucracy and red tape and gets on with delivering the priorities of Levelling Up, Infrastructure and Housing Delivery. Putting the decision making process in planning terms in the hands of paid professionals and ending this nonsense of committees overturning the recommendations of planning officers would be a major step in the right direction!!

By David Sleath

Someone needs to remind Liz Truss that the Tory party have been in power 14 years and have been tacking progressively further to the right. The cause of persistently low productivity, declining living standards and even declining life expectancy must be owned by the Conservative Party. The answer to these problems cannot simply be more of the same albeit in ever more extreme incarnations.

Trickle down economics doesn’t work and unfettered free markets leads to very unpalatable consequence, as the slick of sewerage that currently encircles the country attests.

By Trussonomics

Another failed tory politician spouting more failed tory policies. God help us!

By Monty

The world is in chaos. Market economics are being used as a weapon against us. Millions of people are on the brink of being unable to heat their homes, or keep their lights on. Businesses are about to collapse under the weight of extra costs.
So, yes. The nation’s priority must be Manchester’s ridiculous and needless underground station.

By Jeff

Place North West why do you allow odd slurs against Corbyn/Socialism but not comments that challenge this?

By Levelling Up Manager

    Hi Levelling Up Manager, there are a wide variety of comments and opinions on this article. I believe the comments you may be referring to did not comply with our comment policy – specifically the rules regarding personal attacks. If you’d like to discuss this further, you can contact me at Best – J

    By Julia Hatmaker

Hopefully she follows the Thatcher government’s approach to economic development, when they dispatched a high-profile minister to fund a culture-led regen programme with a sustainable capital legacy (Garden Festival and subsequent housing); regeneration of derelict dockland to high-value mixed use that has blown all visitor number expectations out the water (Albert Dock) and set the foundations for turning around some of the most notirous residential areas via land transfer (Eldonian Village) and private sector investment (Cantril Farm/Stockbridge Village).

I fear the 1980s government may look moderate compared to what’s coming though.

By Managed Incline

Note Truss is a MARKETIST. Small government, small state, society to be organized by for-profit capital enterprises. England as Singapore-on-Thames. Remember?

By Anonymous

She apparently believes in enterprise zones as tax breaks. Ring any bells of the hellish policies of the 1980s, with Thatcher standing on a site of a great factory in ruins bragging about the wonderful future, somewhere in the North East.It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

By Elephant

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