New Clause 10 — Local Development Plan

Part of Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 9th December 2003.

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Photo of David Wright David Wright Labour, Telford 1:45 pm, 9th December 2003

The hon. Gentleman is right. We need to develop what could perhaps be called "tenure-blind estates", in which people could walk down a road without being able to tell which properties were rented, owner-occupied or in shared ownership. We need a process to integrate tenures throughout a neighbourhood and to ensure that all facilities are consistent for everyone living there. That is how balance may be achieved and sustainable communities built.

Another key point about the co-ordination of strategies for housing is that the delivery of affordable housing is being hampered because of inconsistencies in local plans and housing strategies. That provides an opportunity for appeals against decisions. Local housing authorities need to do much more to understand their housing markets and they should integrate the results of housing need and housing market surveys into their planning strategies. Developers often challenge authorities because they are not confident that their housing market analysis is correct. Such authorities tend to back off because they are not sure that they can win the case. We need a strong and consistent approach between authorities' housing and planning departments to ensure that, if cases are taken to appeal, housing officers will have a commitment from their planning colleagues that the assessments will be defended.

Government policy is starting to tackle failing housing markets but I wonder whether planning practice is responding to that. When we develop comprehensive regeneration strategies for areas in consultation with communities, we need to ensure that our planning colleagues—if I may say that as an ex-housing strategy officer—respond to them positively and plan estates coherently and effectively.

The debate has been enjoyable. It is a bit like groundhog day, with the same few Members in the Chamber, but the debate has been of a high quality.