Affordable Homes: Rural Areas

Housing, Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd January 2018.

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Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

More than 119,000 affordable homes have been delivered in rural communities since 2010. Homes England has invested £142 million in the rural affordable homes programme schemes in the past four years, which is around 9% of total spend.

Photo of Neil Parish Neil Parish Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

I very much welcome those figures on affordable homes. There are redundant farm building sites, which could be classed as brownfield sites. If they were, that would release a lot more land for affordable homes. Will the Minister consider that, please?

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right: we have introduced a requirement for each local authority to publish registers of brownfield land. More than 90% of local authorities have done so, and the information to date suggests that nearly 16,500 brownfield sites covering 26,000 hectares have already been identified in England alone.

Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak

As well as helping rural areas, what is the Minister going to do for places such as Birmingham? How will he respond to the council’s request for additional assistance with the provision of new homes, essential maintenance on existing properties and the discharge of statutory obligations, such as health and safety and annual gas inspections?

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Since 2010, we have delivered more than 370,000 new affordable homes, but of course we are ambitious to do more—working with housing associations and local mayors such as Andy Street. Of course, we have raised the housing revenue account borrowing cap for local authorities to give them greater flexibility.

Photo of Patrick McLoughlin Patrick McLoughlin Conservative, Derbyshire Dales

In welcoming my hon. Friend to his new role, may I ask him to look, with the intellectual vigour that I know he has, into what national parks do to supply affordable homes? They are not exempt from the need.

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

My right hon. Friend has considerable experience, both as a Minister and as a long-standing Member. We will certainly look into all such matters because we are absolutely committed to using every lever that we possibly can to increase home building in this country for the next generation.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Party Chair, Co-operative Party

One of the best ways to provide more affordable homes to rent in rural and, indeed, urban areas is through the provision of more co-operative housing. What further co-operative housing initiatives are the Minister and his Department thinking of pursuing?

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The hon. Gentleman is right, and a lot of social housing is of a co-operative nature. It particularly depends on any given community’s specific needs, which are often for the local authorities to help to identify. Local authorities in rural areas need to focus on the particular needs of their communities. For example, some areas have rural exception sites, which provide long-term protection for affordable homes in rural areas.