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Housing: Long-Term Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:50 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Andrew Bridgen Andrew Bridgen Chair, Regulatory Reform Committee 5:50 pm, 9th February 2016

Indeed. My hon. Friend will know that a couple of years ago, I hosted the Building for Life function in the House of Commons, which was attended by the Housing Minister of the time. This is something that I very much believe in. One of my sayings is that Building for Life is not just about building houses, but about building communities. That is what we are doing in North West Leicestershire.

People care about privacy, private space, amenities and safety. Building for Life focuses on such fundamentals. It offers community-focused design tools that aim to ensure that existing and new residents are happy with the development and, therefore, raise minimal concerns about the impact of the new development. Importantly, it also offers home builders the opportunity to work with the planning authority ahead of an application to make sure that those shared objectives will be met, which makes for a more streamlined planning process. It is clear that good design is vital to avoid the mistakes of the last century, which have led to ugly and crime-ridden tower blocks and sink estates.

With that in mind, I encourage the Government to do all they can to help local authorities lodge their local plans and to offer clear guidance on what is required of them. My authority is having problems ascertaining what house building levels are expected of it and in calculating the five-year land supply. I urge the Minister to consider whether the Planning Inspectorate should look at the number of permissions that are granted by a council, rather than simply at the build rate, which is not necessarily within the council’s control. I would appreciate a meeting with the Minister at his earliest convenience to discuss these matters.

Turning to the Liberal Democrats’ housing plans, their manifesto claimed that they had a target to build 300,000 homes a year and 10 new garden cities, but there was no credible detail on how that would be delivered in reality. They say that this Government have chosen to keep the broken market broken, without acknowledging that since 2010, partly with their help, more than 700,000 additional homes have been provided, the number of empty homes is at its lowest level since records began, the number of affordable homes is growing at the fastest rate since 1993 and council house starts are at a 23-year high.