New Build Homes

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:35 pm on 2nd December 2015.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art, Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art 10:35 pm, 2nd December 2015

I do not expect you to stay in the Chair for the whole of this Adjournment debate, Mr Speaker. You might be able to hear that I have a slightly croaky voice, so I will by necessity keep my remarks relatively brief.

I welcome the opportunity to raise this issue with the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend James Wharton. It has been a recurring theme over the past few months, but perhaps that is inevitable as the Government promote house building, and because the number of both starts and completions is up significantly. There are, therefore, more new build homes with the potential to provoke complaints. My right hon. Friend Mrs Miller led a similar debate in July, and my hon. Friend Oliver Colvile is chair of the all-party group on excellence in the built environment, which is conducting an inquiry into this very issue.

I will speak on behalf of one constituent in particular, but I will also refer to others, because, sadly, the problems tend not to happen in isolation. Test Valley borough, which covers the greater part of my constituency, has followed what the Government have asked of local planning authorities. Over the past three years, Test Valley has had either the highest or the second highest number of housing completions in the whole of Hampshire, including the two cities of Southampton and Portsmouth. Test Valley has consistently been in the top 10 for housing completions across the whole of the south-east region. Unfortunately, and as one might expect, areas with high levels of house building can also have high levels of complaints from new residents.

Buying a new home is an enormous step for most people. It is exciting, challenging and stressful, probably in equal measure. I think it is true to say that moving home is one of the most stressful things that any individual, couple or family can go through, but it is also certainly exciting. How much more exciting can it be for someone than to move into a new build home that they can put their own mark on and that no one else has lived in?

My hon. Friend the Minister will be delighted to hear that, during the general election campaign earlier this year, I talked to residents at Abbotswood, a new 800-home development on the edge of Romsey. One resident invited me into her new home, which was bought with help from the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. She proudly showed me a photograph—it had pride of place in the sitting room—of her and her husband at Downing Street with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. For Lisa and her husband, there was nothing but joy in being in their own brand new home. Sadly, however, that is not the case for everyone. I requested this debate to highlight some of the challenges facing purchasers of new build properties when things do not go according to plan.