Localism Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:48 pm on 17th January 2011.

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Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Shadow Minister (Education) 8:48 pm, 17th January 2011

I am afraid that I am going to carry on now.

During the final sitting of the Communities and Local Government Committee that I attended, we interviewed eight witnesses about the regional spatial strategies. The opinions of those witnesses were diverse; some were deeply hostile, while others thought the measures were a step in the right direction. However, those eight people of different opinions were united on one thing: the strategies for house building proposed by this Government will, in fact, lead to a reduction in the number of houses being built, and to the homeless crisis getting worse.

These proposed Government policies have therefore united opposition from both ends of the spectrum of interested parties. Shelter says that the housing crisis will get worse and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire chamber of commerce has written to me today saying that, while it welcomes the Minister's intent to simplify and speed up the planning system, it has significant concerns that the Bill as currently drafted will act as a barrier to development and economic growth. It is therefore a concern not only of those who are most concerned about the housing crisis, but of those who are interested in development and commerce, that under the nimbyish aspects of the Bill we will see a reduction in house building, even though the building of more houses is required to end the housing crisis.

This Bill is a shambolic cover-up. It will mainly devolve to local government responsibilities on what to cut and who to target. It is a missed opportunity that will do nothing to boost the morale of the beleaguered local government sector, and it will inevitably make the housing crisis worse.