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What does the General Election mean for a planning application?

24.05.24 | Written by James Goldstone

The answer is… it depends.

If an application is either not terribly controversial or at the early stage of the pre-app process then the next six weeks will not have much impact.

If the application has local opposition or is approaching the determination period (or both!) then be prepared for a slightly bumpier ride.

As a general rule the more marginal the constituency, the greater the likelihood of politicians targeting controversial applications in their campaigns. At all three general election campaigns I managed in marginals for Labour, local planning applications featured prominently one way or another.

Expect candidates from the opposite party of the local authority administration to seize on controversial schemes. Unpopular applications in places like the three marginal Barnet constituencies are likely to be enticing attack lines for Conservative candidates hoping to keep those seats blue.

But be warned, even in non-marginal seats planning get can messy during an election. Local application opponents are not always aware of what constituency swing is needed to unseat an MP. I’ve seen safe incumbent politicians be told “No one around here will vote for your party because you lot voted to approved [insert name of modestly proportioned development here]”. This needn’t be true to have an impact. Candidate-itus, the panic politicians feel regardless of how likely they are to lose their seat, is a real thing. I’ve witnessed MPs coming out strongly against a local development regardless of the fact they will end up weighing their vote. This can and has caused headaches to applications which would not have been experienced without an election.

For all those working on planning applications over the next six weeks, good communications will become ever more important.

Cratus Group will drawing on its fantastic experience and expertise to support its clients to navigate the upcoming political challenges as their arise.

What does the General Election mean for a planning application?