New UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has set out the government’s plans for growth, promising a new focus on infrastructure.
Speaking in Parliament at what has been billed as a ‘mini-Budget’ to help tackle the cost of living crisis, Kwarteng said: “An essential foundation of growth is infrastructure.”
He went on to say that the current planning system is too slow, especially for major projects. “In the coming months, we will bring forward a new bill to unpick the complex patchwork of [planning laws],” he added.
Kwarteng also said the government would look to accelerate a number of key infrastructure projects to help boost growth, with the Treasury publishing a list of priority projects. The document explained these projects may benefit from acceleration “through planning reform, regulatory reform, improved processes or other options to speed up their development and construction, including through development consent processes”.
Although dominated by major road programmes, the list does include some flagship projects that will be using a mix of public and private investment, including the East West Rail programme, the Local EV Infrastructure Fund and Sizewell C.
Kwarteng said the government would also increase its disposal of surplus government land for new housing developments. “We are getting out of the way to get Britain building,” he said.
Meanwhile, he also promised new ‘investment zones’ that will help to speed up growth in certain areas of the country, adding the government is already in discussions with some local partners to establish these zones.
As part of the plans for the investment zones, there will be designated development sites to both release more land for housing and commercial development, and to support accelerated development.
“If we really want to level up, we have to unleash the power of the private sector,” Kwarteng concluded.