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Housing: Long-Term Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:59 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Greg Mulholland Greg Mulholland Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Campaigns Chair 5:59 pm, 9th February 2016

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I welcome the intervention from the hon. Lady, and indeed anything that will get Leeds City Council building more and using its powers. We need to learn from best practice everywhere and from councils of any colour.

My final point is that the planning system is not set up to deliver the solution to the housing crisis. Deregulating and making it easier for developers to build on green belt and greenfield sites will not help. I share the criticism of the housing targets and the fact that Leeds City Council will not revise its target. I have campaigned with my neighbouring MPs and with Wharfedale and Airedale Review Development, which highlighted the flaws in the council’s case. At the same time, WARD is very clear that there need to be changes in the planning system. It feels that, because of the planning system and the way that developers are able to exploit it, Leeds City Council will not stand in the way of developers. I again ask the Minister to look at my National Planning Policy Framework (Community Involvement) Bill, which came up with a number of solutions last year on how we can give more specific powers to communities and councils; look at housing targets not on a council but on a regional level; allow co-operation; and do more to put into practice the words from the Minister about ensuring that we incentivise development on brownfield sites.

The balance is not right on either the planning system or housing. Until the Government accept that and stop hiding behind the dangerous gimmick of the right to buy, it will leave many sections of our society with no way out of this housing crisis.