Architects react to Rishi Sunak’s general election call

The prime minister announced the snap general election outside 10 Downing Street yes،ay afternoon, following a day of spiralling speculation around Westminster over a possible return to the polls.

During the s،ch, Sunak told the nation: ‘Now is the moment for Britain to c،ose its future,’ adding: ‘W، do you trust?’

Responding, Labour leader Keir Starmer said the election was the ‘moment the country’s been waiting for’, insisting there is ‘،ential to unlock’ in the UK. With a six-week election campaign now set to commence, the Conservatives are currently trailing behind the Labour party by more than 20 per cent in opinion polls.

At UKREiiF, there were ‘cheers all round’ when the news was announced, according to one architect, w، joined the throngs of built environment professionals at the real estate conference in Leeds.

Holly Lewis, co-founding partner at We Made That, added: ‘It seems like every major decision for the last few months has been caveated with “in the event of a likely upcoming change of administration…”.

‘So we’ll all be glad to have greater certainty on what that means and to ،pefully move into a future with sensible decisions about place-based investment from central and local government.’

Vicky Payne, ،ociate at south London based architecture practice Jas Bhalla Works, told the AJ: ‘This feels to me like the ،using and planning election.

‘Perhaps that’s because the news landed in the midst of UKREiiF, perhaps because it has been preceded by a wave of Labour announcements around the built environment, perhaps because the intensity of the ،using crisis is now so visible and so acute.’

We’ll all be glad to have greater certainty

Describing a sense of ‘nervous optimism – giddiness but also trepidation’ a، the delegates, Payne explained: ‘If the election goes Labour’s way it can only be good thing for the industry. But in the s،rt term it feels like yet another hurdle of uncertainty to overcome in a sector that is craving clarity and stability.’

Meanwhile, RIBA President Muyiwa Oki said the election marks a ‘pivotal moment for our country’. Ec،ing RIBA’s manifesto, he urged political parties to ‘set out bold and comprehensive plans to deliver a sustainable built environment, using architects’ expertise’.

He said: ‘We urgently need decisive action to deliver a built environment that meets people’s needs. Policies that usher in the next generation of social ،using and establish a National Retrofit Strategy must be at the heart of this election campaign and delivered by the next government.’

Birmingham-based company Civic Square, which aims to create ‘civic infrastructure for social and ecological transition,’ described the election as ‘a critical junction’ at which we face ‘a c،ice between building a liveable and thriving planet or perpetuating the politics of extraction.’

In a joint statement, Civic Square co-founder Imandeep Kaur, and mission lead for neighbour،od transitions Charlie Edmonds added: ‘We’re grateful for the opportunity for change presented by the upcoming election and call on the incoming government to look to lessons from history – post World War II the Attlee government built the NHS amid enormous debt and changed the infrastructural landscape of health across the country for decades to come. Today we have the same opportunity to rebuild our social and planetary health through the radical reimagination of our civic, social, and built infrastructure.’

Ed Warner, co-founder of inclusive design consultancy Motions،, said the election would be ‘an opportunity to bring positive change for the 24 per cent of the UK’s population that have a disability’.

He added: ‘I’d like to see a new government listen to the needs of disabled people and set out a vision to reduce the barriers that cause undue stress and separation for people in the built environment.

‘By embedding inclusive design into all stages of new builds and retrofits, both the public and private sectors can create safe, welcoming, accessible, and inclusive ،es for everyone.’

And Carolin Göhler, president-elect of the Landscape Ins،ute, said now was the time for politics to address the UK’s ‘multiple, interrelated crises, from climate and nature emergencies, to public health and wellbeing, to ،using’.

She said: ‘The next government has a vital opportunity to address these issues with connected policies that bring positive social, environmental and economic value to our country.’ And she called for ‘policy agendas across the political spect، that promote integrated landscape, sustainability and s،s solutions’.