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Labour manifesto: design standards pledge for all public buildings

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The Labour party has vowed to make good its commitment to roll out design standards for all new public buildings in its election manifesto

Compulsory standards currently only apply to schools, but the party outlined proposals to extend the programme to other buildings in its World Class Places strategy unveiled last year (AJ 13.05.09), and now looks set to bring them in across the board should it regain power on May 6.

The manifesto reads: ‘We will continue to promote excellence in architecture and design, helping to foster civic pride and build world-class places in which people want to live and work.

We have introduced new design standards for schools, to ensure the very best architecture and building design; we will extend these to all new government-funded building programmes.’

There were few surprises elsewhere, with most of the other energy proposals having already been previously showcased in a series of pre-election white papers.

Spending on hospitals looks set to be cut and ‘reprioritised…[on] primary and community care services’ and spending on regeneration is also likely to be trimmed.

The key points summarised:

Regeneration and Housing

  • Plans for a ‘new form’ of affordable housing, aimed at working families on modest incomes – working people will be able to rent an affordable home below market rates
  • Cost cutting on regeneration with a concentration on worklessness


  • Extension of minimum design standards currently in place for schools to all public buildings

Hospitals and Schools

  • A pledge to continue rebuilding and refurbishing secondary schools
  • The reprioritisation of capital expenditure on health, towards primary and community care services


  • Proposals to give councils the power to develop local energy systems such as renewables and district heating
  • Plans to achieve 40 per cent low-carbon electricity target by 2020 – 15 per cent of which to come from renewables
  • Legislation to introduce Pay-As-You-Save financial schemes to pay for household energy improvements
  • Proposals to insulate all lofts and cavity walls by 2020
  • Plans to give councils the power to develop local energy systems such as renewables and district heating
  • Support local communities and co-ops and social enterprises to invest in local renewable energy services

Local Government

  • New powers for local government to take a lead in the provision and financing of social and affordable housing, tackle climate change and work closer with the NHS and National Care Service
  • Extend and give greater powers to City Regions, to invest in transport, skills and local economic development
  • Opportunity for local communities to trigger a referendum for Elected Mayors


  • Extension of the ‘public interest test’ for the Infrastructure Planning Commission to the takeover of infrastructure and utility firms.
  • Legislation in the next parliament to embed high speed rail plans. The network will be built in stages and go link London to Birmingham, Manchester, the East Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds and later, to the North and Scotland.
  • Continued commitment to building Crossrail rail link

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