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A plan to get Britain Building again

The modern world was made in Britain. We invented the steam engine, built the first railway, and forever revolutionised industry. We switched on the grid, split the atom and built the first full-scale nuclear power station.

We owe an enormous debt to the generations that came before us for building the railways, reservoirs, roads, pylons, sewers, power stations and homes that we rely on every single day. But instead of continuing our proud tradition of inventing and building things to make everyone’s lives better, we have stopped. Britain has not built a new nuclear power station in 29 years and not built a new reservoir in more than 30 years. The consequences are clear to see.

Young families are forced to rent cramped cold properties with no prospect of ownership because we haven’t built enough homes in decades. People struggle to pay their energy bills because delay and red tape have held back clean domestic sources of power. Too much potential is squandered across our proud towns and cities because we have made it too hard to build the fast, reliable transport links people desperately need. The result is Britain’s economy left to fall behind with real wages stagnant for the past 15 years.

It doesn’t have to be this way

Britain’s decline is not inevitable and we are still a great country. Britain Remade has a plan to get us back to what we’re good at: inventing and building things to solve our biggest problems.


We don’t think it should take 13 years to build a new offshore wind farm when so many families can’t afford to pay their bills. That’s why we have a plan to speed up new clean domestic energy infrastructure to cut bills, create jobs, and make Britain more self-reliant.


We don’t think it’s acceptable that building new railways, trams and roads can cost up to 10 times more in Britain than it does in other European countries. That’s why we have a plan to cut the cost of building new transport links and upgrading existing ones, while empowering local leaders to get spades in the ground.


We don’t think it’s acceptable that Britain spends more per head on housing than any other European country even though our homes are older, colder, and smaller. That’s why we have a plan to end Britain’s housing shortage by removing the barriers to building new warm homes in areas with fast transport connections to the best jobs.

Look at what Britain can accomplish when we put our minds to it and have a plan. Think of the coronavirus vaccine developed in Oxford that saved millions of lives worldwide, the Starstreak missile launchers made in Belfast that helped brave Ukranians defend their freedom from Putin’s invasion, and Dogger Bank, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, which provides clean power to 3 million homes. Britain has the potential to lead the world in developing the clean technologies of the future, harnessing the power of AI, and discovering new cures and medicines. 

We could have cheap, clean power, warm, affordable homes, and fast, reliable transport. And we could export the technologies we’ve developed to the rest of the world, making it easier for them to decarbonise while rebuilding Britain’s industrial base.

But only if we choose to get back to what we’re good at and start building again.


Cheaper bills: a plan to make Britain energy secure by 2030

When global gas prices spiked as a result of Putin’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, it demonstrated just how vulnerable Britain is. The average annual household energy bill shot up by 95% and it was only because of the £23 billion Energy Price Guarantee that average bills didn’t hit £3,500.

The cost of energy may have fallen since, but bills remain unaffordable for too many. Even before Ukraine was invaded, Britain’s electricity was among the most expensive in the world. In 2021, British households paid 45% more per kWh than French households, 89% more than South Korean households and 130% more than American households.

Energy is expensive and we are vulnerable to international fossil fuel shocks for a simple reason: we have not built enough clean domestic power sources. It is simply too hard to get stuff built in Britain. Investors are desperate to pour billions into energy projects across the country, but are blocked by our planning system at every turn.

Take East Anglia Two, an offshore wind farm that when built will power 800,000 homes with clean renewable energy. To get planning permission, Scottish Power had to produce an 85,000 page planning application with 12,270 pages devoted to an environmental statement. When the project was finally approved, it got challenged in the courts. Construction has been delayed while energy bills have continued to rise with families and businesses finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.

It doesn’t have to be this way

Britain Remade has a plan to make Britain energy secure by the end of the decade. Let’s be frank: building enough clean domestic sources of power to end our reliance on imported fossil fuels is no small task. We need to triple the amount of energy we generate from offshore wind, more than double our solar power capacity, and build more grid infrastructure in the next six years than was built in the last three decades to bring that power to people’s homes.

Our plan targets and eliminates delays at every stage of the planning process. Our plan reforms the regulations that push up the costs of building safe, reliable nuclear power plants. And our plan creates the conditions for the biggest investment in the grid since its creation.

Becoming energy secure by the end of the decade won’t be easy, but it is worth doing. Imagine a Britain no longer exposed to international gas price spikes; a Britain where manufacturing jobs are saved and new ones are created building the clean technologies of tomorrow; and crucially, a Britain where families no longer have to worry about whether they can afford to pay their electricity bills.

Rapidly deploying domestic renewable energy

Dramatic falls in the cost of installing new wind turbines and solar panels mean that the biggest barrier to a low-carbon energy secure grid is not the cost of the infrastructure itself, but our broken planning system. 

Britain’s coastline has some of the strongest and most consistent winds in Europe. We have already made massive progress in harnessing this abundant natural resource building the world’s largest offshore wind farms off the coast of Yorkshire, the world’s best offshore wind turbine testing facility in Blyth, and one of the world’s biggest offshore wind turbine factories on the site of Redcar’s old steelworks.

To end our reliance on imported fossil fuels by 2030, we need to go even further and move even faster by tripling the amount of energy we produce from offshore wind. It can be done, but only if we change the way our planning system works.

As it stands, it can take up to 13 years for an offshore wind farm to progress through the planning system and start generating power, despite construction only taking two to three years. Off the coast of Yorkshire, construction on the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Hornsea Three, is about to begin but it nearly didn’t happen due to unnecessary delays. To get approval, renewable developer Ørsted produced an environmental impact assessment five times the length of War and Peace and were still forced to wait two and a half years for a yes-or-no answer.

It is possible to put up an onshore wind farm in less than a month, but England isn’t building the cheapest source of clean power because it is nigh-on impossible to get planning permission. In fact, since Putin’s invasion, Ukraine has installed more than 12 times the onshore wind turbine capacity than England. The 2015 de facto ban on onshore wind, where one objection was enough to stop a project, may have recently been lifted, but England’s planning policy still treats it harshly.

The cost of solar panels and batteries have fallen over the last decade by 87% and 82%, respectively. Solar could play a vital role in our energy mix but planning delays, restrictions on development, and unnecessary costs, like the requirement to do larger-than-necessary archaeological digs, hold it back.

To cut bills and become energy secure by 2030, we need to unlock an additional 70GW of renewable power generation. To do that we need to get building faster. 

The time it takes to build an offshore wind farm must more than halve to six years. The time it takes to build even the largest onshore wind farms must fall to less than five years. Timelines for smaller onshore wind and solar farms need to be cut by even more to just under one year. It will be hard, but it can be done.


Fully ending England’s ban on onshore wind

Onshore wind is one of the cheapest sources of power, but barely any projects are coming forward in England due to planning rules. To get more clean cheap renewables built, the next government should remove remaining anti-onshore wind rules from the National Planning Policy Framework. The ban on onshore wind projects using the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project system should also be lifted, bringing onshore wind in line with all other types of energy generation.

Creating new clean energy zones for onshore wind and solar

To get planning permission to build, solar and wind developers can be required to produce environmental impact assessments stretching to almost 15,000 pages, even though clean energy is clearly good for nature and the environment. Britain should adopt the European Union’s new policy of exempting most solar and onshore wind projects from the requirement to do an environmental impact assessment in special areas of low biodiversity value.

Taking a smarter approach to environmental protection

Britain’s approach to environmental protection is failing. Forcing renewable projects to produce mammoth environmental impact assessments has not prevented Britain from becoming one of the most nature depleted countries in the world with every key biodiversity indicator from farmland birds to insect life in decline. A better approach is possible – one that unlocks more money for nature recovery while getting more green energy built. To reverse the decline in biodiversity, the government should replace Environmental Impact Assessments and Habitats Regulation Assessments with Environmental Outcome Reports that are hundreds (not tens of thousands) of pages long.

The next Government should simplify the long and overlapping list of protected sites, strengthening protections in areas with high natural capital and restoring habitats with private sector investment from clean energy providers, while greenlighting clean energy projects in areas with poor biodiversity.

Where projects are likely to lead to negative environmental outcomes, developers should either be required to purchase off-the-shelf nature recovery solutions from a government-approved list that is linked to species abundance targets in the Environment Act - or contribute to a central Nature Restoration Fund that is deployed to bankroll the recovery of species by 2030, in line with the strategic targets set out in the Act. A version of this approach partially exists for offshore wind already, but should be extended to all infrastructure.

Changing the way we do consultations to cut delays and prevent lawsuits

Britain has a problem of over-consultation. When done well, consultation can improve projects and address local people’s concerns, but fear of legal challenge is leading to round after round of consultation holding up development. There’s a better way. Britain should create a National Consultation Commission modelled on the French Commission Nationale Du Débat (CNDP) public and give it an explicit proportionality mandate. The commission would make clear to developers what is and isn’t needed eliminating unnecessary delays.

Fast-tracking all clean energy projects

To hit the UK’s 50GW Offshore Wind target, the Government has promised to cut statutory planning timetables by a third for offshore projects. This positive change should be extended to all clean energy projects.

Scrapping unnecessary and disproportionate trenching rules

In order to gain planning permission, solar developers can be forced to carry out massive archaeological digs even though scanning technology is available, which can more easily identify whether any artefacts are present. For the largest solar farms, trenching rules can require excavating the equivalent of 50 football pitches and cost millions of pounds. This represents up to half the cost of solar planning applications. The government should remove these unnecessary requirements given the minimal impact of solar farms on artefacts below the ground.

Building nuclear again

Britain has a proud nuclear heritage. We split the atom, built the world’s first commercial nuclear power station, and built another ten more in the decade that followed. Yet, Britain hasn’t built a new nuclear power station in almost three decades. 

In the next decade, all but one of our existing nuclear stations will be decommissioned. Yet, we have failed to replace them with new nuclear plants despite support for it being strongest among those that live closest to existing nuclear sites. Nuclear means good long-term jobs for local people and more money spent on the local high street. These benefits are why we were able to fill a room on a cold, wet Thursday in January in support of a new nuclear power plant in Cumbria.

To become truly energy secure, we need to listen to our nuclear communities and combine a majority renewable grid with safe, reliable, and low-carbon baseload power from nuclear. If Britain is to lead in the high-tech industries of the future like AI then we will need that low-carbon baseload power more than ever before.

Yet, new nuclear power in Britain faces a major challenge: cost. Hinkley Point C is set to be the most expensive nuclear power station ever built – costing £42bn (or £12.82mn per MW).

Nuclear doesn’t have to be expensive. When Britain Remade analysed every nuclear power plant, with reliable cost data, built since 2000, we found that South Korea is able to build nuclear power stations for six times less than Hinkley Point C per megawatt. Finland and France are able to build the same reactor design as us for half the cost. Britain itself built power plants for half the price per megawatt, after accounting for inflation, in the 1980s, and a quarter or less in the 1950s and 1960s.

Why are our costs so high? One key factor is that South Korea builds cheaply by committing to a single design and building fleets of eight to twelve reactors. Hinkley Point C, by contrast, is effectively a first-of-a-kind reactor design due to the 7,000 design changes required to meet British nuclear regulations. Hinkley Point C uses 25% more concrete and 35% more steel in construction compared to the same reactor design built in France as a consequence.

Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are a new form of nuclear power station that can be constructed off-site, then shipped and assembled. As their name suggests, they are significantly smaller than a full gigascale nuclear power station. For example, Rolls-Royce SMR’s design is around one-tenth the size as a full-scale reactor. Some designs are even smaller. SMRs are exciting because they offer the potential for South Korean-style savings by building fleets. But as it stands, our planning system and regulations are not fit for purpose for SMRs.

Our planning system is a problem for gigascale reactors too. In order to gain planning permission to build Sizewell C, EDF produced a 44,000 page environmental impact assessment. At Hinkley Point C, millions of pounds are being spent on habitat mitigations including a speaker system to save less than one trawler’s worth of fish. Wylfa in Anglesey’s application for planning permission was recommended for refusal on the grounds it might threaten an arctic tern colony.

To deliver the clean reliable baseload power Britain’s households and businesses need will require us to slash the cost of building new nuclear power stations.


Updating the nuclear national policy statement

A new national policy statement for nuclear power is urgently needed to respond to the UK’s energy insecurity. It should include a clear statement that as the Office for Nuclear Regulation assesses safety and design choices, the issues should not be re-opened during the planning process or consultation. Only site-specific issues such as water management should be covered when discussing designs already in use.

To deliver fleets of SMRs, the national policy statement for nuclear should create a strong presumption in favour of standardisation for SMRs. In cases of designs already in use, the policy tests around good design and alternatives should be removed. Any reforms to environmental impact assessments and habitats regulations designed to spur the development of renewables should equally apply to nuclear.

Backing Great British Nuclear

Britain’s nuclear delivery body Great British Nuclear must be given full backing to buy sites and de-risk development for new fleets of SMRs. Government can play a crucial active role in shaping the market for nuclear energy. Targeted early-stage investment, for example funding companies to take SMR designs through the regulatory approval and planning processes, is vital to reducing financing costs and attracting private-sector investment in new nuclear.

Delivering a new approach to siting for SMRs

Small Modular Reactors, which can be less than a tenth of the size of gigascale plants, do not have the same land or water requirements. This matters because it means that SMRs could be built in many more locations than just the small number of officially designated sites. For example, research from the US Department of Energy suggests that around 80% of existing or retired coal-fired power plants sites could be repurposed into SMRs. The next government should remove the requirements that they can only be built on designated sites and allow SMRs to be built in any place that meets key conditions around population density and nature.

SMRs and Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs) could also play an important role in industrial decarbonisation providing clean energy for heavy power users like data centres, steel production and chemical plants. Where safe, a new national policy statement on nuclear should explicitly support the co-location of manufacturing and nuclear generation.

Adopting a unilateral recognition approach to nuclear safety

The cost of building Hinkley Point C was driven up by the need to make over 7,000 design changes to meet standards set by the Office for Nuclear Regulation. To cut the cost of building and speed up approval processes, Britain should automatically approve designs approved elsewhere by trusted regulators. South Korea’s APR-1400, which is already approved by US and EU regulators, should not have to go through the standard four year long approval process.

Moving to a mutual recognition approach would also free up time for our regulators allowing them to prioritise approving new SMR designs.

Fast-tracking a new nuclear power station at Wylfa

Due to its geology, access to water, and existing grid connections, Wylfa B site in Anglesey/Ynys Môn is the best site in Europe for gigascale nuclear generation. It is vital that work on building a new nuclear power station on the island starts as soon as possible. To speed up the process, the government should ensure that planning work from the cancelled Wylfa Horizon project can be used as much as feasibly possible.

upgrading our grid

To become energy secure, it is not enough to build new clean sources of power. Just as important is building the infrastructure to bring that power into people’s homes. A future where we use more electricity for electric vehicles and heat pumps and get more of it from smaller renewable projects will require a massive investment in our national grid. In fact, Britain needs to build more grid infrastructure in the next six years than was built in the last three decades.

It can be done. In fact, we’ve done it before. In 1928, the Central Electricity Board began work on building a new national grid. In the space of five years, they accomplished their goal having built 4,000 miles of pylons.

Britain’s skilled technicians and engineers are up to the challenge, but they can only succeed if our planning system changes with it. To build a single transmission line between Beauly and Denny (137 miles) took almost twice as long as it did to plan and build the grid in the first place.

When there isn’t enough grid infrastructure to transmit energy from where it is generated to where it is needed wind farms get paid to stop generating. In 2021, this cost billpayers half a billion pounds collectively. These payments will keep rising, unless we get building those grid connections.

Our failure to build enough grid infrastructure holds back investment too. New solar projects are put on hold because developers are told they have to wait 13 years for a grid connection. Major housing developments in West London have been cancelled because they can’t be connected to the grid.

We also need to ensure that a renewable grid is backed up by long duration energy storage to ensure that when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, the lights stay on.

To enable a generational investment in grid infrastructure and long-duration storage technologies will require us to slash development timelines and make it much easier to invest ahead of demand.


Enabling massive anticipatory investment in the grid

To make Britain energy secure by 2030 will require a massive investment in our grid, but Ofgem’s current price controls make it impossible to build in anticipation of demand. Ofgem's rules may have worked in the past before the rise of renewables, but the rules are no longer fit for purpose. National Grid has set out a plan to invest £58bn into upgrading the grid, but the investment can only happen if it gets approved by Ofgem. To ensure this plan can be delivered, the newly-created Future Systems Operator should be granted the power to direct Ofgem to approve investment in upgrading the transmission network.

Speeding up planning processes and creating a spatial plan

It simply takes too long to get new grid connections approved. To speed up delivery, planning processes should be reformed to ensure that any Future Systems Operator backed plan to upgrade network capacity that follows accepted design rules (e.g. built near existing major roads) is given an overwhelming presumption of consent in planning policy.

To ensure grid investments are made in the right places, a spatial plan for grid infrastructure should be created at the earliest possible date. This plan would direct grid investments to where new energy generations are most likely to be built such as clean energy zones.

Setting a new Energy Systems Operator backed target for long-duration energy storage

Long-duration energy storage technologies such as hydrogen, pumped hydro, and flow batteries will play a vital role in replacing foreign gas’s role as a backstop when wind and solar aren’t generating enough. Yet, planning policy and market arrangements are not set up for a future where long-duration energy storage plays a much more vital role.

To drive change and provide investors with certainty, the government should announce a 2035 25GW target for long-duration energy storage. Additionally, the Government should look into longer-term balancing contracts to de-risk investments and create a new National Policy Statement to speed up planning approvals for long-duration energy storage technologies.


Reliable transport: a plan to cut the cost of building new transport links

Too many Brits are forced to endure long, unreliable and expensive commutes. People are left with less time to do the things they value most, whether that’s spending time with their family or having a drink with friends after work. Our proud towns and cities are held back as a result.

Britain faces a unique challenge: workers in our major cities like Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds are less productive than the national average. In most countries, people in larger cities typically earn more. However, outside London, Britain’s cities are struggling, with output per worker 30% lower than similar cities in Germany, 23% lower than France, and 18% lower than Italy. 

A significant cause of these challenges is that it is too hard for people to access the city centre, where the best-paying jobs are. For example, Birmingham and Munich are similar in size, as are Leeds and Marseille. Yet, during rush hour, only 34% of Birmingham’s residents and 38% of Leeds' residents can reach the city centre within 30 minutes by public transport. By contrast, 74% in Munich and 87% in Marseille can.

The problem goes beyond public transport. Most Brits commute by car, but roads in British cities are 48% more congested than roads in similar US cities, and 15% more congested than roads in similar European cities.

When commutes are long and unreliable, it means workers have access to fewer jobs and businesses are less likely to invest.
To close the gap and boost wages across the country, Britain needs to invest in new fast reliable transport links in places like Leeds, the largest city in Europe without a rapid transit system.

It doesn’t have to be this way

Britain Remade has a plan to get Britain moving again by building new fast, reliable transport links.

It isn’t right that places like Leeds, Bristol, and Cardiff don’t have fast, reliable transport systems while every city with at least 150,000 residents in France does. Nor is it right that only a third of Britain’s railways are electrified compared to more than half in France, Germany, and Spain.

Britain’s towns and cities deserve much better. Our transport network needs a major upgrade. All of Britain’s large cities should have a modern tram system. Slower, dirtier diesel trains should be replaced with faster, more reliable electrified railways. Traffic bottlenecks in our road network must be removed and the infrastructure put in place to make it ready for electric vehicles.

Towns and cities have been promised better transport before only to have vital projects delayed or even cancelled, but our plan is different. It targets the root causes of why nothing in this country seems to get built on-time and on-budget.

Our plan will deliver better transport by radically cutting construction costs, empowering towns and cities, and unlocking new sources of private funding.

Fast, reliable public transport

Britain used to lead the world in the construction of new railways and tramlines, but we have fallen behind. Outside of London, British commuters have to make do with less frequent, less reliable and slower public transport options than their counterparts on the continent. 

Sixty German cities have a tram, compared to only seven cities in Britain. In France, every urban area with more than 150,000 residents has a tram or metro, while there are 30 British cities that size that lack any form of rapid transit. Britain is more reliant on slower diesel trains that break down more often than Germany, France, or Spain because we have failed to electrify our railways at the same rate. Our trains are less likely to arrive on time and more likely to be cancelled than European equivalents.

When we do try to restore our railways, projects quickly face significant red tape. Take the 3.3 mile Portishead branch line near Bristol. Residents have been keen to get their railway back almost since it shut in 1964. In 2022, the North Somerset Council successfully got planning permission, after three years and 79,187 pages of paperwork. If all of those pages were laid end to end, it would be 4 ½ times longer than the proposed railway will be. All of those pages add costs, uncertainty, and delay to restoring a vital rail connection for the residents of Portishead.

The high cost of building in Britain has left us with an inadequate transport system. Britain Remade reviewed over 300 transport projects across 20 countries and found Britain builds trams at twice the cost of the European average and almost four times the cost Germans do. When it comes to electrifying railways, Britain pays three times more for a single mile of track than Germany. High Speed 2 was nine times more expensive than the Tours to Bordeaux high speed line.

There are multiple causes of the UK’s high costs from planning delays to regulation, but one key problem is a lack of practice.

Every year for the last fifty years, Germany has electrified roughly 200 kilometres of railway. Britain could learn from this approach. Our boom-and-bust approach has made electrifying our railways around three times more expensive here than in Germany. Instead of building up a skills base and learning from past mistakes, Britain is constantly starting from scratch. Failures like the £190m wasted on unnecessary work for the TransPennine Route Upgrade could be avoided if we copied Germany’s approach.

But that’s not our only problem, Britain is one of the most centralised countries in Europe. Our proud towns and cities should be able to fund their own transport upgrades, but instead are forced to go cap-in-hand to Whitehall. Not only does this mean decision making takes place far from the people who best know what their communities need, it also has the effect of slowing everything down by adding extra layers of bureaucracy. Parliament passed all the necessary enabling legislation for a Leeds tram in 1993, but have repeatedly failed to fund actually building it.

Connecting more people to the best jobs with fast reliable public transport links will mean cutting Britain’s sky-high construction costs and giving city regions more power to invest.


Creating new long-term funding streams for rail electrification and rolling stock

To bring down costs, the Department for Transport should commit to a consistent and rolling programme of investment in rail electrification. Instead of funding electrification on a project by project basis, HM Treasury should provide funding of £350m per annum for rail electrification. To speed up delivery, Network Rail should be given full business case approval powers to choose which projects to spend it on.

Train factories in Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Durham are under threat from another boom-and-bust approach. Between 2012 and 2019, half of Britain’s fleet was replaced, but only a few new orders have come since. The Department for Transport should create a new funding programme to smooth out the boom-bust cycle and prioritise replacing every train that’s more than 35 years old. If we do not act and our domestic supply chain collapses, Britain can expect to pay more in the future as we cannot buy off-the-shelf from international suppliers due to the age of our railways.

Fixing utility regulations to cut the cost of building new tramlines

Britain’s tram projects currently move almost all utilities in their route, while having to pay for 92.5% of the cost of moving them. This doesn’t come cheap, with moving utilities constituting up to a third of construction costs.

For future projects, British trams should look to continental Europe and America and adopt a do not move by default approach to utilities. We should only replace what is necessary. Iron Victorian pipes will need to be replaced, funded by a greater contribution by the utility company, but plastic water pipes, telecoms, and electrics shouldn’t be moved.

With utility companies only covering 7.5% of the cost of moving utilities, there is no incentive for them to keep the costs of work down or to be selective about which pipes and wires actually need to be moved or replaced. Instead, the utility companies get newly installed apparatuses at the expense of the tram project. The government should update the statutory instrument ‘The Street Works (Sharing of Costs of Works) Regulation 2000’ to rebalance the costs of diverting utilities from tram projects to utility. Utility companies are the most capable of efficiently and cheaply re-routing their cables and pipes because of their experience and incentives to only re-route utilities that actually need to be moved.

Reforming the Transport and Works Act to get trams built faster

Tram projects in the UK take more than a decade from initial proposals to opening for passengers. Trams in France can do the same in a single six year mayoral term. A key cause of delays that British trams encounter and French trams do not, is having to get national approval for the local transport project. Though getting a Transport and Works Act Order is valuable for British tram projects as it gives planning permission and legal protections, the process adds millions in consultant fees and up to four years in delays.

DfT and DLUHC should devolve Transport and Works Act approvals to metro mayors. These projects do not have national level impacts or externalities, so shouldn’t need national approval. Local elected leaders could champion the project throughout its planning, as French mayors and councils do for their trams.

By encouraging drivers out of their cars, Nottingham’s tram contributed to a 25% reduction in the city’s CO2 emissions. Because all British tram projects have had large environmental benefits, requirements to complete environmental impact assessments should be removed for areas where the trams run on existing roads or through built up areas.

Restoring your railway pipeline and improving its viability

The Restoring Your Railway Fund generated significant enthusiasm for rebuilding our railways, with 141 unique bids received. People from Tavistock and Portishead to the Don Valley and Oswestry are desperate to be reconnected to the national rail network. The DfT and HM Treasury should re-open the fund to help progress the accepted bids through the planning process and create a pipeline of projects with consistent funding to encourage investment by private contractors. The next Government should also designate any railway restorations project as critical national priorities in the national networks policy statement. These railways should benefit from the reforms to consultation and environmental impact assessments mentioned in the energy section above.

To help the financial viability of projects, DLUHC should withdraw its 2017 guidance on the 2016 Housing and Planning Act, which limited the number of homes that could be jointly consented with a Development Consent Order to 500. Building new homes and towns in connection with new tracks was how the Victorians funded many of the railways that we still rely on today. Such a funding mechanism would enable capture of the increased land values that a railway brings.

Empowering city regions to fund new transport infrastructure

To make the transformative investments in new trams and rail links that our towns and cities desperately need, we propose giving metro mayors new powers to fund projects. When a new transport link is built, nearby homes become more valuable and businesses are able to access a larger pool of workers. Two years after tramlines opened in Manchester, Edinburgh, and the West Midlands, prices of homes near the line were on average 15% higher. This is compared to essentially no house price changes in the two years prior to the tramline opening.

Metro mayors should be allowed to issue bonds, secured on future uplift in stamp duty and business rate revenues to fund new transport infrastructure. To make it easier for metro mayors to levy business rate supplements and council tax precepts to fund infrastructure the requirement to have approval from the majority of authorities within a combined authority should be removed. The DfT should also devolve to Metro Mayors the approval of future workplace parking levies, where employers are charged a fee for each parking space they provide to employees, as currently central approval could take more than three years.

To provide more funding options, Metro Mayors should also be allowed to levy an extra penny on employer’s national insurance on the condition it is ring fenced for new transport infrastructure and approved at local referendum. A similar tax in France, called the Versement Transport, helped to fund France’s tram renaissance.

Metroising Local Rail

Nearly half a million Londoners rely on trains to get to work. Yet unlike the underground, these services are managed by 11 different companies, which fail to build a coherent or efficient network. These services are often delayed, with Southern only achieving 53% on time services, compared to 80% for the London Overground. Competing operators, poor performance and inefficient operational design creates a downward spiral of delays and overcrowding. Manchester suffers from similar challenges; despite rail being the fastest growing mode of transport to work, only 60% of Northern services were on time.

To fix this, DfT should transfer control of local rail to Metro Mayors starting with London. This would enable TfL to improve operational standards across the new network and make targeted capital interventions to increase capacity, reduce journey time, and improve reliability. TfL estimates they could run 39 additional trains per hour to central London for just 12% the cost of the Elizabeth line if they were given control over local rail in South London. This approach should then be rolled out to Manchester and the West Midlands.

Unblocking Britain’s roads

Britain is a nation of motorists. Nearly 22 million of us get to work each day by car. For many people, a car is a necessity but a long-term failure to invest in the road network means millions are stuck in traffic every day. Even in a net-zero Britain where our railways are fully electrified and our cities all have fast reliable public transport systems, the majority of Brits will still drive to work – in electric cars.

It is hard to imagine the Germans tolerating that large stretches of a crucial road like the A1 connecting Newcastle and Edinburgh are single-carriageway or that a river crossing that serves some of the country’s busiest ports would be so congested. Britons should not tolerate it either.

Some argue that the need to cut emissions means that Britain should stop investing in the road network. Legal challenges on these grounds have held up a number of major road projects, while in Wales a plan to build a Third Menai Crossing has been held up due to the Welsh Government’s effective ban on new road building.

This approach will never make a serious dent in emissions. New roads will only ever be a small fraction of Britain's 247,800 mile long road network. To get emissions from driving down the focus must be on the 170 billion miles travelled each year on roads built already.

The way to get those emissions down isn’t by making driving more expensive, but by giving drivers a better alternative. In part, this means expanding public transport, but it also means accelerating the shift to electric cars.

Britain Remade analysis found that speeding up the electric car rollout by just one year would prevent twenty times more carbon from entering the atmosphere than came from all main road building between 2015 and 2020.

Electric vehicle prices are falling fast and many drivers want to make the shift, but are put off by fears around not being able to find somewhere to charge their car. The right approach is not to stop building roads, it is to invest in roads and build the infrastructure to get them ready for the switch to electric cars.

To get Britain moving again, we need to build new and better roads lined with fast reliable chargepoints for electric cars.


Making it easier to install public EV chargepoints

Motorists will only make the switch to zero-emission electric vehicles if they are confident they will be able to charge it. That’s why it’s essential to install as many public charging points on British streets as possible alongside rapid-charge points in motorway service stations. Yet many councils, including over 100 who have declared a climate emergency, lack a plan for the EV rollout.

To speed up deployment, the next government should implement the proposal under consultation to allow chargepoint operators to carry out streetworks using a permit that can be obtained in days rather than a licence that can take months. A new permitted development right should be created to allow operators to install chargepoints in appropriate locations. Local distribution network operators should be required to publish up-to-date information about grid capacity to eliminate unnecessary delays.

Eliminating unnecessary planning bureaucracy

In an effort to win planning permission to build a new river crossing to relieve the extremely congested Dartford Crossing, National Highways spent almost £300m producing a 360,000 page planning application. To put that into context, Norway managed to build the world’s longest road tunnel for less than half that. Change is a necessity. That project is critically needed to relieve one of the most congested and most important parts of the road network, serving as a gateway from Europe. Refusing consent for that project would be another damning indictment of planning in the UK.

To cut bureaucracy and speed up delivery of essential road upgrades, the next government should update the national networks national policy statement to give critical national priority status to any road endorsed in the Road Investment Strategy. To enable cheaper and more flexible construction, all project amendments with positive environmental impacts should be automatically approved.

Unlocking investment with a new wave of public-private partnerships

Intense pressure on the public finances will force the next government to make tough choices on infrastructure funding. There is a major risk that relying on public investment alone will force many crucial road projects to be cancelled or delayed indefinitely. There’s a better approach available. In France, private companies have built more than 5,500 miles of motorways with concessions from the state to collect tolls from users if they build, operate, and maintain the motorway. At the end of the concession contract, the state gets to keep the high quality infrastructure. This enables France to invest significantly more into its road network while making more money available for investment in other priority areas such as public transport and active travel.

Britain should copy the French model and use private finance where possible to fund projects in the government’s next Road Investment Strategy.


More homes: a plan to end Britain’s housing shortage

British housing is the coldest, smallest, and least affordable in Europe for a simple reason: we have consistently failed to build enough houses. For almost 70 years, Britain has consistently built fewer homes per person than almost every other Western European country.

Britain’s housing shortage has crushed the dream of home-ownership. In 1991, 67% of 25-34 year olds owned their own home. Today, less than 40% do. Overall, controlled for population age, homeownership peaked in 1991 and has been falling ever since. Saving enough money for a deposit now takes the average couple thirteen years. In London, it would take them 30 years. Too many people are forced out of the place they grew up because they aren’t able to afford a home on a normal wage. Even if they can piece together enough money for a deposit, the massive mortgage they have to take out leaves them extremely vulnerable to interest rate hikes, something families up and down the country know all too well right now.

Unaffordable housing makes our economy weaker too. While housing is expensive across the UK, it is most unaffordable in the places with the best job opportunities. In York, Cambridge, and Edinburgh, homes now cost on average between 8 and 12.5 times local wages. To access the jobs they’re best suited to, workers have to choose between long commutes or expensive, cramped housing.

Watling and Breach 2023 based on Holmes 2004

Our national failure to build enough homes means we are reliant on homes built more than a century ago. In fact, Britain’s housing stock is one of the world’s oldest. As old homes tend to be cold homes, not only do Brits spend more per person on housing than the rest of Europe, they end up paying a bigger gas bill too. This is bad news for bill payers and bad news for the planet.

The root cause of Britain’s housing shortage is our planning system, which gives local authorities complete power to say ‘no’ to new homes, but little reason to say ‘yes’ to them, meaning they only plan for the minimal number they are required to.

Even when land is set aside in a local plan, proposals to build new homes on it are frequently refused on spurious and, often self-contradicting, grounds. It takes longer and costs more to get planning permission than ever before. Small builders that employ local people and are rooted in the community have seen the real costs for planning applications increase by five times over the past 30 years. Our uncertain, slow, and expensive planning system now takes more than a year to give a yes/no answer when used to take just three months.

Yet, that only scratches the surface of the problem. The deeper issue is that not enough land is put forward for development in local plans at all. In the years before WW2, Britain grew its housing stock at around 2 per cent per year. But after WW2, the planning system changed into the one we have to this day and housing building rates dropped by more than a third. The consequence is a massive backlog of 4.3 million homes and an ever-worsening housing crisis.

It doesn’t have to be this way

Britain Remade has a plan to end the housing shortage.

More people living near fast transport connections to good jobs would be good for the economy and good for the environment. Yet in Britain’s most expensive cities housing near train stations and busy bus routes is built at incredibly low densities.

Our post-war estates provided better quality housing to people in need, but they were not built to last. Too many social tenants are stuck in properties that are cold, damp, and small.

Britain is home to some of the world’s best universities, making breakthroughs in AI and medicine. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge, in particular, can help Britain become a science superpower, but there’s a problem. Growth is limited by unaffordable housing and a lack of lab space for innovative startups.

Our plan will end Britain’s housing shortage by: getting more new warm homes built in the places people want to live, near fast transport connections to good jobs; renewing our post-war council housing estates to give existing residents larger, warmer safer homes; and building beautiful new urban extensions modelled on Edinburgh New Town to make the most of our world-beating universities.

Building more homes in our best connected areas

Britain can cut pollution and boost the economy by making it easier to live in our best connected places. Owning a car is a necessity, not a choice, for millions of Brits because it is the only reliable way they can get to work. It is clear that people want access to good public transport options. That’s why rents near train, tube, and tram stations are almost always higher. The problem is they are too high because too few homes have been built near them.

In London, where more people use public transport each day than anywhere else in the country, the areas around some tube stations are built at extremely low densities. In fact, merely by building to terraced street density, we could nearly double the number of homes in outer London.

Investment in better public transport is essential, but we also need to make much better use of the transport infrastructure we already have. We don’t currently. Birmingham’s public transport network is actually bigger and more extensive than Munich’s, but fewer people in Birmingham can get to the city centre in 30 minutes or less. The difference is that in Munich more people live in mid-rise housing where the fast public transport links are.

Higher densities do not have to mean imposing tower-blocks either. Many of the most beautiful and desirable bits of our great towns and cities are built at mid-rise density, like the six-storey mansion blocks of Marylebone and the tenement houses of Edinburgh.

Housebuilders could profitably build at these densities in Britain’s high-cost cities. In fact, in places like London, Cambridge, and York house prices are around two to five times more than the cost of construction, which means new homes can unlock large amounts of value that can be used for new transport links, public services, or social housing. The problem is they can’t get permission to do it.

New Zealand shows us an alternative. Under Jacinda Ardern, NZ’s Labour government reformed planning rules to automatically approve any building up to six-storeys high on streets near city centres, commercial hubs or rapid transit stops in six major cities. This policy followed a similar reform in Auckland that led to a housing boom and cut rents by a third. A similar fall in London’s rents would save a couple £6,000 a year.

Building attractive mid-rise housing near fast transport links would cut carbon emissions, improve air quality, and make it easier for people to afford to live within commuting distance of the best jobs.


Automatically allowing six-storey developments near stations in unaffordable cities

To get more homes built in the right places, the next government should replicate New Zealand’s approach. New National Development Management Policies, created by the recent Levelling Up Act, should be used to create an overwhelming presumption of consent for new six-storey developments within walking distance of stations and business hubs in cities where house prices are more than 7.5 times local incomes and not enough housing has been built so long as they meet certain conditions.

First, there should be no net loss of green space. Second, all new housing should be built to the highest energy-efficiency standards feasible and offer low-carbon heating options. Third, all new buildings should be built to a design code developed with local people getting a real say on design.|

Using our capital’s land better

London has the most unaffordable housing in the country; a one bedroom flat in London costs more on average to rent than a three bedroom house in any other region in Britain. There are large swathes of land in London which are within walking distance of its more than 600 stations, yet have bans on building new homes.

Park Royal Industrial Area is a sprawling collection of warehouses surrounded by 11 underground stations, Acton Mainline station on the Elizabeth line and the soon to be Britain’s biggest train station, Old Oak Common, yet building new housing is banned on large parts of it due strategic industrial location designation.

There are more than 1,420 hectares of golf courses (including 565 hectares of publicly owned golf courses) within walking distance of train or stations, busy bus routes, and town centres. Allowing housebuilding on just half of these sites at modest densities could deliver more than 30,000 homes, while allowing for the creation of genuinely open spaces for Londoners to enjoy nature, walk their dogs, and exercise.

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities should work with the Mayor of London to update the London Plan to allow development on more of the Park Royal site, while identifying replacement industrial sites with good connections to the strategic road network. Metropolitan open land designation should be removed from golf courses near train and tube stations. Development should be allowed when it delivers a 25% net gain in biodiversity and leads to an increase in genuinely public outdoor space.

Letting homeowners extend upwards to fund green upgrades

When bills are high, investments in insulation often pay-off quickly. But some of Britain’s older, but also most attractive, buildings face two major barriers when trying to cut their energy use. First, there’s cost. While cavity-wall insulation is cheap, solid-wall insulation isn’t and takes longer to pay for itself. Second, there’s red tape. We rightly try to preserve our architectural heritage, but Listed Building status and Conservation Area rules can prevent green upgrades.

Heritage should not be a barrier to cutting bills and emission. To make it easier to retro-fit older buildings, the National Planning Policy Framework should be updated to create a presumption in favour of development for sympathetic single-storey upward extensions when they are in keeping with the building’s original designs and improve the building’s energy performance. In the parts of the country where house prices are in excess of build costs, this would give homeowners a strong incentive to undertake major green renovations.

Renewing Britain’s post-war estates

After World War II, Britain embarked on a massive council house building programme. It cut overcrowding and sheltered millions. Sadly, many of these homes have now fallen into disrepair. Too many council tenants live in substandard properties that are damp and expensive to heat. Where possible councils should retro-fit these properties, but that’s not always affordable. To bring a concrete tower built in the 1960s up to a decent standard can cost upwards of £100m.

Estate renewal offers a solution. Contrary to popular belief, post-war housing estates were deliberately built at low densities cut off from the traditional streetscape. In a housing shortage, this creates an opportunity. In places like London, Edinburgh and Bristol, it is possible to rebuild estates at higher densities and use the sale of new private housing to fund the construction of high-quality warm social housing.

When residents are offered the opportunity to vote on whether estate renewal projects should go ahead, they almost always say yes. In fact, 29 out of 30 estate renewal ballots in London saw residents vote in favour of redevelopment in some cases with 80 to 90% majorities.

There is a huge opportunity to boost the supply of homes, including social housing, through estate renewal. In London alone, estate renewal at mostly modest densities could deliver over 715,000 extra new homes on top of rebuilding 540,000 social homes to a higher standard. If all new estates were built to the highest energy efficiency standards, it would save the average council tenant almost £800 a year on their gas and electric bill.

Estate renewal is already delivering thousands of homes across the country and giving existing social tenants better quality housing, but it could deliver even more if some of the key barriers to it were tackled head on.


Funding expensive upfront costs for local authorities and housing associations

In Britain’s most expensive cities, estate renewal projects more than pay for themselves. The challenge is getting projects off the ground in the first place. Before construction can begin, housing associations and councils need to engage with residents, develop detailed plans, and navigate the planning system. Even though the long-term rewards are great, councils and housing associations may be reluctant to start the process given the high upfront costs. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities should provide upfront grant funding to cover these costs.

Giving councils the ability to borrow at lower rates to fund estate renewal projects 

Estate renewal projects are long-term endeavours. From start to finish, some projects will take 20 years. One reason for this is the best practice of building in stages to ensure residents only have to move once. High borrowing costs can make long-term investments like estate renewal less attractive and riskier for councils. To support councils and housing associations, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities should allow local authorities to borrow at low central government interest rates for estate renewal projects.

Approving all estate renewal projects when residents vote in favour

Local authorities and housing associations face an estate renewal dilemma. Building more private housing at higher densities will make it easier to improve their offer to local residents and deliver more homes at affordable or social rents, but there is a risk of planning rejection. Alternatively, if they choose to build at lower densities they cannot make as big an offer to existing residents and they have to scale back their ambitions on new social housing. In some cases, the latter threatens the viability of the whole project.

To support local authorities and housing associations in raising their ambitions on delivering new energy-efficient affordable and social housing, a National Development Management Plan should be created to provide an overwhelming presumption of planning consent to any estate renewal project that has been endorsed by a residents’ ballot and complies with clear national rules on effects nearby homes. This should be underpinned by a new Estate Renewal Act, which removes some of the bureaucratic hurdles to estate renewal.

Creating beautiful new urban extensions

Every day Britain’s world-beating universities make incredible discoveries from life-saving vaccines to ground-breaking advances in AI. But, Britain isn’t making the most of these national assets that other countries would love to have. The problem is that Oxford and Cambridge have the most expensive housing outside of London, while the labs for businesses developing new materials and medicines have not been built. 

Britain’s science-based businesses want to build new labs, but face planning barriers. The result is that investment that would come to Britain goes overseas. The rest of the world is building. In America, Boston has more than five times as much lab space under development than Oxford and Cambridge combined.

We need bold action to build more labs near our world-beating research institutions and we need to build more homes so the people that work in them can afford to live nearby.

There is a government-backed plan to build 150,000 new homes by 2050 in a new urban extension to Cambridge. It is the right scale of ambition and if seen through is estimated to boost the UK economy by more than £6bn per year. Britain Remade believes the same ambition should be shown for Oxford with 150,000 homes and new lab space built in a new urban extension that preserves what people love best about Oxford.

To get Britain growing again and solve our biggest problems, we have to back our scientists, engineers, and inventors. This is a national priority because what’s discovered in the labs in Oxford and Cambridge is soon on the factory floor in places like Liverpool and Macclesfield.


Using Special Development Orders to create new science quarters in Oxford and Cambridge

Britain’s status as a scientific superpower is under threat unless Cambridge and Oxford are allowed to expand. Building more homes and more labs in both places should be a national priority. Special Development Orders (SDOs) are a powerful tool allowing national government to quickly enable development on a large scale. For example, they were used to redevelop the Cardiff Bay area attracting massive investment and creating thousands of jobs.

In Cambridge and Oxford, new SDOs should be used to create new science quarters mixing new homes built at the gentle density of Bloomsbury with purpose built labs. In the past, urban extensions have been built at low ‘sprawl’ densities far away from the main city forcing residents to be dependent on their car. New urban extensions should be built differently, based around walking and cycling with housing mixed with shops. Crucially, like Edinburgh New Town, they should be part of the city itself. The massive uplift in land value from the SDO should be captured to fund new rapid transit systems.

Fast-tracking new reservoirs in Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire

One key barrier to building 150,000 new homes in Cambridge is a lack of water. Cambridgeshire is famously the most water-stressed part of Britain, but this is not because Cambridge is particularly dry, at least not by international standards, it is because Britain has not built a new reservoir since 1992. The problem is that risk-averse regulators have not approved new investment in building reservoirs in anticipation of future demand and while planning processes are too slow to respond.

In fact, of the 15 years it’s estimated to take to build and fill a new Fens reservoir, half will be spent obtaining planning permission. Likewise, a new reservoir in Abingdon, Oxfordshire has been talked about since the 70s but construction won’t begin until 2028 at the earliest. To ensure that a lack of water isn’t a barrier to housebuilding, the next government should use their planning powers to create a fast-track for new reservoirs. Where possible, new reservoirs should be funded by bill supplements on new homes built in urban extensions.



We all know we’re paying too much for our energy bills. We know we spend too long stuck in traffic or waiting for trains that never seem to come. We know that wages are too low while our rent is too high - and that buying a home for our family is harder than ever before.

Every single day we live through Britain’s failure to build the modern clean infrastructure the country needs. Over the last two years we’ve spoken to people right across the country, from Aberdeen to Anglesey, from Durham to Devon. Everyone tells us the same thing: it feels like nothing works any more.

Sometimes it can feel like nobody in Westminster has a plan to sort this out. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Britain Remade’s plan will get us back to what we’re good at.

Britain built the world’s first railway line, the world’s first coal-fired power station, and the world’s first commercial nuclear power plant. We built the future - and our lives got better.

We can do it again. If we build new sources of clean energy we can get bills down, keep them down, and be energy independent by the end of the decade.

If we build new clean transport links we can make it easier to get to the best jobs, and easier for all of us to see friends and family,

If we build the beautiful, energy-efficient new homes this country needs we can bear down on rents and give people a fighting chance to get onto the housing ladder.

Back to what we're good at is our plan to do just that. Our plan to get Britain back to what it's good at - inventing and building things to solve problems and make lives better. And we’re going to work to make sure all parties take on board our ideas as part of their manifestos in this election.

We once led the world in new ideas and new industries. If you agree that we can once again build the future - then join our campaign today.