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The latest planning statistics show that in the year to March 2011, local planning authorities granted 37,500 residential planning permissions; that is up 8% on 2009-10.
May I draw the House’s attention to my interests?
Will the Minister admit that the figures for the second quarter—the latest available—show that the number of planning consents for residential development were down 23% on last year? That is the second lowest level ever recorded, and less than half the level necessary to provide for housing needs. Will he also now admit that the Government’s maladroit tampering with the planning system has created the near impossible—namely, achieving the lowest level of housing planning permissions at the same time as infuriating the National Trust and other countryside groups by the prospect of indiscriminate growth?
The right hon. Gentleman was the architect of many of the policies that led to the lowest level of house building since the 1920s. When we rip up the regional spatial strategies, cancel his top-down targets and put local people in charge, we can see the results, not measured over one little quarter that he plucks out of the air but over the entire first year of this new Government. Those results show that there were just 88,500 house building starts in the last year of his Government, and that the number had risen to 103,500 in the first year of this Government. That is a rise of 17%.