My prediction to AHR Architects and their annual dinner guests a few weeks before the election - that the Tories would emerge with a small majority - looked increasingly unlikely as polling day approached.
As it turned out, many of the undecideds were not in tune with voters who had already made up their minds.
Exactly how the result will affect property, architecture and planning is difficult to predict with certainty, not least because our situation is so different to the one we were facing in 2010. At that point, growth was the only big ambition, and if planning and design were getting in the way then they would have to change.
The result of that approach was the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), a robust and workable regulatory context within which appropriate development can take place reasonably quickly, but which is not (despite what critics say) a licence to wreck the countryside. However, it can only work properly if local planning authorities have up-to-date plans and a proactive attitude to what they want to see built in their areas. We are all tired of being told that ‘resource constraints’ have prevented councils from producing such plans. They need to get on with it, as a majority have.
In respect of design, the NPPF is very clear that bad design should be refused planning permission. The surprise pre-election switch of architecture from the Department of Culture to the Department of Communities and Local Government may strengthen the upholders of quality, though there will always be those who care only about quantity. Obviously the switch will stick, given the Conservative victory.
The government does not need to meddle with the basic planning structures now in place, but should now pay attention to some major political issues. It may get some parliamentary advice as a result of the recent decision to create, for the first time, a select committee on the built environment. One to watch.
We still have to reach a conclusion about airport growth and the future of Heathrow. We still need a decision on rating revaluation and/or business rates, where, as with the Heathrow expansion, David Cameron has been personally responsible for delay.
The world of rating inevitably morphs into the world of property use. We can assume that the as-of-right commercial-to-resi conversion philosophy, introduced kicking and screaming during the last administration, will grow stronger roots. It would be good if this was accompanied by insisting on development meeting decent space standards.
This sort of conversion will not, of course, solve the ‘housing crisis’, so little discussed in any intelligent sense during the election campaign. The dozy idea of forcing housing associations to sell units at a loss will, with any luck, hit the buffers. The government also needs to say why, if it thinks homeownership is so great, it is busy giving tax hand-outs to the buy-to-let sector. Subsidies have done little for net numbers.
Moreover, since the Conservative manifesto said it would require local authorities to sell off valuable property to pay for new housing construction, why not do the logical thing and extend this idea to land? The dirty secret the Labour party cannot acknowledge is that shortage of sites for housing is largely the result of public authorities, not private companies, sitting on land.
A one-nation government would surely find ways to bring land into productive use, delivering the homes required by all our people. We need a major political figure to take the lead on this. Francis Maude has time on his hands, but why not give the task to someone still up and coming? Why not Boris Johnson?
As for Scots, in the words of the Fleetwood Mac song: ‘You can go your own way’, as they probably will.
Paul Finch is programme director of the World Architecture Festival
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