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House Building: Rural Areas

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th November 2016.

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Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Conservative, Bexhill and Battle 12:00 am, 28th November 2016

What steps he is taking to ensure that new homes can be built in rural areas.

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

We want to see all areas with an up-to-date plan in place that meets housing need. We are doubling annual capital spending on housing over the course of this Parliament, and we will be announcing further measures, some specific to rural areas, in the forthcoming White Paper.

Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Conservative, Bexhill and Battle

I thank the Minister for his response, and I am keen to see more local housing. With 75% of my constituency designated as areas of outstanding natural beauty, my district councils are in the midst of delivering a much-needed five-year land supply. Will he assure me that the Government will implement robust measures to prevent opportunist developers from applying to build anywhere in our AONB in the meantime?

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

I am delighted to hear that my hon. Friend’s local councils are getting their five-year land supply in place, as that is crucial. In the meantime, I can reassure him that the national planning policy framework says that great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in AONBs, so the protection is there in national policy.

Photo of Ruth Smeeth Ruth Smeeth Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North

What will the Minister be doing to ensure that British-made ceramics—tiles and bricks—will be used for rural housing and, for that matter, for all housing?

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

That is a good question and I am happy to meet the hon. Lady to explore what opportunities exist, as she is a doughty champion for her area and for her industry.

Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North

Will my hon. Friend confirm that under the national planning policy framework, unmet housing need does not constitute an exceptional circumstance necessary to warrant building in the green belt?

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

That is a timely question. The answer is that the NPPF does not define what the exceptional circumstances are that should justify changing green belt boundaries. That is rightly a matter for local communities to decide on.