The Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) has said the Labour Party’s plans for new housing and infrastructure could have a “significant impact” on the countryside and rural businesses.

The party will face “hefty opposition” from those against development, and so will need to act fast to push housing plans through, the rural property adviser said.

Secretary and adviser to the CAAV, Jeremy Moody, said: “This is a government that, on the face of it, means to significantly increase the number of houses built and accelerate the infrastructure required for renewable energy and water.

“That will affect a lot of rural land, which may present opportunities for some and threats for others.”

However, plans for many major developments have been seriously delayed or thrown out through objection and judicial review.

Judicial review enables anti-development groups to claim that due procedures have not been followed and so tie proposals up for years, the CAAV said.

“So complicated is our administrative life that it’s almost impossible to take a big decision,” Moody said.

“We are now waiting to see if it is feasible for a government to make the kind of structural changes needed to achieve economic growth. If we don’t do something radical, we will still be here in 30 years’ time.”

‘Acid test’

The CAAV said the “acid test” will be whether the Labour government introduces changes to the judicial review process to make it easier to proceed with the development it has promised.

“The King’s Speech on July 17 will almost certainly promise some sort of Planning Bill. It will be interesting to see if the briefing includes prospects to limit judicial reviews,” Moody said.

“If not, Labour will have missed the moment – with its big opportunity to limit the rights of challenge.

“But I’ve seen no thinking as to how that will be done – and clearly some right of appeal must remain, so there’s a balance to be found.”

Moody expects a draft National Planning Policy Framework by the end of July, giving the 2022 housing targets back to local authorities.

Parallel to that, he envisages an expert working group to identify, within six months, sites for new towns.

“That will be electorally interesting, because a lot of Labour back benchers now represent anti-development constituencies,” he said.