A hung parliament is the outcome that few in the property industry would have wished for. A quest for strong and stable government has ended in uncertainty for the country and the inevitable political manoeuvring is underway. The cost of coalition can be high. Whether or not Theresa May continues as Conservative leader, if the party seeks to form a minority government, its ability to drive reform is questionable.
There is much unfinished business. Decisions need to be made on big ticket infrastructure items, including expansion of Heathrow. Rafts of secondary legislation are required under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017. Further reforms mooted by the Housing White Paper are on hold. The future of the community infrastructure levy, deemed unfit for purpose, needs to be determined. Indeed, the thrust of the Conservative’s housing agenda may be considered afresh, particularly with former Housing Minister Gavin Barwell losing his Croydon seat.
It is to be hoped that those elected will work together where necessary in the interests of the country to maintain economic growth and support jobs and new homes. However, philosophical differences between the parties run deep. There is scope for every piece of legislation to be scrutinised heavily and concessions sought as the price of passage through Parliament. The appetite of any minority government for legislative reform would be sorely tested.
What the country desires from Brexit remains unclear. Top of the list for the development industry may well be a sensible deal on immigration policy as there are serious concerns about the future availability of labour to build the infrastructure and houses the country needs, with skills shortages already evident. The spectre of hard Brexit may now seem less likely, but those working in the UK will need to take a leap of faith as to what lies ahead.
Is there a silver lining? From the activity we have seen and companies we have worked with, business has proven its resilience in the ten years since the financial crash and become adept at handling uncertainty. With uncertainty comes opportunity. The next government needs to do everything it can to help businesses move forward in a complex market place.