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Housing: Long-Term Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:33 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government) 4:33 pm, 9th February 2016

I am sorry the hon. Lady thinks giving that power to local people is rubbish. I think that local people are the right people to make these decisions.

Since 2010, the number of planning permissions for new homes has risen by 50% and the number of local plans has more than doubled. I gently say to the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale that my hon. Friend Mims Davies was absolutely right and he was wrong: the local authority in Eastleigh does not have a local plan. It should do the right thing and get one in place. That is what she is fighting for on behalf of her residents.

I know that Members want building on brownfield land to be the first choice. Under this Government, brownfield land will be prioritised and new homes will be built near existing residences so that the green belt and local countryside is protected. A new statutory register of brownfield land will provide up-to-date and publicly available information about land suitable for housing. Planning permission in principle will drive that further. Our estate regeneration programme will transform rundown bad estates across the country, and 40 brownfield housing zones, including 20 in London, are also being created.

We want planning permissions in place for 90% of these sites by 2020 so that we can regenerate eyesores and derelict land to create modern homes for the next generation. We will change the parliamentary process to allow for urban development corporations, and smaller firms in particular will benefit from quicker and simpler ways to establish where and what they can build. We are supporting smaller house builders by directly commissioning the construction of new homes on publicly owned land. Our pilot schemes will see work start on up to 13,000 homes on four sites this year, with 40% of them being starter homes. Nothing on that scale has been done for 30 years. Our new approach will support smaller house builders and new entrants that are ready to build but lack the resources and access to land. We will help them. Currently, the top eight house builders provide 50% of all new homes, and we are determined to change this ratio, as we build more homes this Parliament.

Great progress has been made since the great housing crash under Labour. We took the tough decisions, in coalition and then in a Conservative Government, to tackle the deficit, help homebuyers and get Britain building again. We reformed the planning system and ensured that local people were in control of building the homes they needed, and we ensured that new homes were built across all tenures. In 2010, the housing market was in danger of collapsing altogether, and house building had almost stopped. At the same time, public opposition to new housing was enormous, because people were sick and tired of being bossed from Whitehall. Dramatic improvements have been made in all these areas.

Problems that fester for years, however, take a long time and great effort and commitment to solve. There is still a profound need to build more homes in our country across all tenures to support the aspirations of people who want to buy their own home. Everyone in the Chamber and in public life has a role to play in making the case to local communities for seeing these homes built. This will be a defining challenge of our generation. That is why the Government will be unwavering in their commitment to deliver a better housing market—one that secures our economic recovery, boosts productivity and rebalances our economy. That is a prize worth fighting for. Its economic and social legacy could last far beyond any of our political lives.

These plans are about working people—the people we all serve. It is about their hopes, their dreams, their plans for their and their families’ futures, and their confidence that their hard work will be rewarded. That must be our motivation. We are one nation—north and south, renters and buyers, young and old. Whoever and wherever they are, anyone can walk through the door of opportunity and into a home of their own.