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General Election 2024: The manifestos compared

Find out about each party’s priorities for the 2024 General Election, and read our response to the Conservative, Green, Labour, and Liberal Democrat manifestos.
  • today 18 June 2024
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A pivotal moment of any General Election is the launch of each party’s manifesto – an opportunity for parties to set out their priorities if they win the election. We’ve trawled through the Conservative, Green, Labour, and Liberal Democrat manifestos (so you don’t have to) and assessed their pledges against RIBA’s manifesto, which sets out our key asks for the next government. 

Housing and planning

Boosting supply is key to help tackling the housing crisis, and facilitating this has been a focus for this election. The Conservative commitment is to build 1.6 million homes in England over the next five years, while Labour’s manifesto specifies 1.5 million. Comparatively, the Lib Dems plan to build 380,000 homes every year across the UK, with 150,000 of these as social homes. The Green Party has echoed the promise of 150,000 new social homes each year, but alongside new builds, this will also involve purchasing and refurbishing older housing stock. Labour wants to increase social and affordable housing, but a clear strategy on how this will be achieved was absent from the manifesto.  

To deliver the homes we need we also need an efficient planning system. Historically, ineffective and unintegrated approaches to planning have often led to poor quality, unpopular developments. To help tackle this problem, Labour, the Lib Dems, and the Tories have all committed to prioritising brownfield land for development.

For the Conservatives, this involves providing a fast-track route through the planning system to deliver homes on brownfield land in the 20 biggest cities and using design codes to enable “gentle densification” of urban areas, built in the local character. Labour wants to release “grey belt” land - which they define as lower quality land such as disused car parks in the green belt - for development, while financial incentives to develop existing brownfield land are central to the Lib Dem approach.  

The importance of placemaking also features across the manifestos. The Greens would require all new developments to be accompanied by investment in providing access to health, transport, and other amenities, and the Conservatives would ensure Community Infrastructure Levy funds are used for local infrastructure which is needed to support new homes. Echoing our statements, Labour has pledged to take steps to ensure we are building more high-quality, well-designed, and sustainable homes.   

We have long campaigned to ensure that local authority planning departments have the resources they need to deliver high-quality buildings and places, a need which is acknowledged in the Lib Dem, Labour and Green manifestos.  

Climate action

Turning to the climate crisis, all parties have made promises to retrofit our homes, albeit with differing levels of detail and funding commitments.

The Lib Dems would launch a Home Energy Upgrade programme with free insulation and heat pumps for low-income households, provide incentives for installing heat pumps, and use pilots to find the right mix of tax incentives, loans, and grants. Our own research shows that a sliding scale of stamp duty could help incentivise those who are ‘able to pay’ to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, so the suggested use of tax incentives is welcome.  

Meanwhile, the Green Party suggests an investment of £29 billion over the next five years to insulate homes. In addition to existing commitments for energy efficiency improvements, the Labour Party has committed to an extra £6.6 billion over the next parliament, with the Conservatives hoping to fund £6 billion of improvements over the next three years.  

In terms of further climate policy commitments, the Greens advocate for all planning applications to require whole life carbon and energy calculations – a positive step but falling short of our call for regulation in this area. For new homes, the Greens would ensure that they meet Passivhaus or equivalent standards, while the Lib Dems would require all new homes and non-domestic buildings to be built to a zero carbon standard.  

Building safety

Following the Grenfell fire tragedy there is still work to be done to make the built environment as safe as it can be. Labour has committed to improving building safety through regulation, and the Conservatives will support leaseholders affected by historic building safety problems. The Greens and Lib Dems have pledged to invest in our public buildings to make them safe from RAAC and fit for the future.  

Addressing the housing and climate crises and improving the safety of the built environment will not be possible without a competent, inclusive, and growing profession. All political parties have committed to strengthening our relationship with the EU, although to varying degrees.

We know immigration and being able to recruit international talent is a key issue for practices. To address this, the Lib Dems have said they would update the work visa system and expand the Youth Mobility Scheme, while Labour would reform the points-based immigration system and link immigration and skills policy. In comparison, the Conservatives have said they will raise the Skilled Worker threshold and increase visa fees.  

We will work closely with whoever forms the next government to promote and achieve a high-quality and sustainable built environment, delivered by a world-class UK architecture sector.  

Read our response to the Conservative, Green, Labour, and Liberal Democrat manifestos.  

Find out more about each party’s priorities below.

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