This is the second time the hon. Gentleman has asked whether I am willing to see him. I am; indeed, only this morning I sent out, at my own expense, for some high-quality tea and better biscuits for him. We are looking forward to seeing him.
Seven out of 10 councils have published a local plan, and the figure continues to rise. Nearly nine in 10 planning applications are approved—a 10-year high. Indications are that there are fewer planning appeals, meaning that local decision making is to the fore. The latest data from Glenigan show that planning approvals for new homes are up 62% year on year, and 33% up on the previous quarter.
However, brushing the cobwebs off the planning system is only part of the plan. As a result of Labour’s inaction, this country is crying out for more homes to meet that desperate demand, so this Government are helping to get development off the ground. Locally supported, once-mothballed large-scale sites—such as in Cranbrook, in Milton Keynes, in Eastern Quarry and in Wokingham—are now being kick-started. We should contrast that with Labour’s top-down eco-towns, which delivered not a single home.
Our programme is set to deliver 170,000 new affordable homes, almost 63,000 of which are already completed, by 2015. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors says that home sales have reached their highest level in more than two and a half years, while builders from Barratt to Bovis say that Government schemes are driving increased sales, putting people back on the property path.