As Labour positions itself for “builders, not blockers”, there’s a risk real estate will find itself in a surreal position: branded a blocker.

Labour’s proposal to scrap ‘hope value’ within compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) comes not long after mooted plans to ensure new-build homes are first offered to domestic buyers. Amid a protracted housing crisis, Labour is daring the Conservatives and developers to stand in its way. Its bet is that public sympathy is on its side. With YouGov showing 59% in favour of a large increase in housing, it’s probably right.

So, what can developers do to protect their reputations and grow the bottom line?

First, continue engaging constructively. Many builders are already planning much fuller diaries at the Labour conference this September, given the likelihood of Labour becoming the biggest party after the next election, and the industry should use that to plan for the long term.

Yet, while Labour is on its prawn-cocktail offensive, it remains set on championing housebuilding by any means from both an ideological and a vote-winning perspective. That is especially true of affordable and social housing.

That’s why, secondly, the industry ought to promote the value it brings: new homes in a range of tenures, workspaces and schools, and the huge number of jobs it provides – 12% of UK employment in 2022, according to British Property Federation (BPF) research from Lichfields.

Finally, property needs to show it is part of the solution: builders, not blockers. Partnerships between private and social developers are already on the rise. Many firms would be happy to invest in the planning system, speeding it up, making it less expensive and enabling more money to be spent on sustainable community infrastructure planning.

On Labour’s CPO plans, the BPF’s Ian Fletcher called for a “collaborative process that encourages landowners to co-invest their land with public authorities in return for long-term sharing of value”. That principle should guide developers in their political engagement to ensure they are branded builders, not blockers, and achieve the goodwill necessary to create new homes, communities and economic and social value.

Ben Monteith, account director, SEC Newgate UK