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The Government have set out an ambitious target for housebuilding. I welcome the Secretary of State’s recognition that everyone deserves a home of their own, which is something with which we can all agree. According to projections by the Ministry, the number of households in England is expected to grow from 22.7 million in 2014 to 28 million in 2039. There are a number of factors behind that, but I am sure we can agree that it is a significant increase, and we must be mindful of the effects on existing communities.
We have successfully delivered more than 1.1 million new homes since 2010, and I welcome that commitment, as well as the help for first-time buyers with schemes such as starter homes and Help to Buy. The latter has already helped 387,000 people to buy a home of their own, and to get a foot on the property ladder. However, it would be remiss of me not to mention the genuine concerns that have been voiced in my constituency, and others across the country, about the effect of house building on communities. More consideration needs to be given to the need for the views and concerns of local communities to be taken properly into account in areas where house building is taking place.
It is not just a case of opposition to developments for their own sake, and it would be wrong to label those people nimbys. However, when concern is expressed about the way in which the developments will affect their quality of life and the strain that they will place on local services, action must be taken to ensure that those problems are remedied. The scale and design of such developments can cause resentment from the outset, but basic remedial action can often alleviate opposition. Building and infrastructure must go hand in hand, and section 106 agreements must be implemented sooner rather than later.
More consideration needs to be given to the provision of services such as schools and doctors’ surgeries, and to ensuring that homes are not built where flooding occurs, and already congested roads are not made worse by additional vehicles. We need appropriate infrastructure, sympathetic design and landscaping, and highways that are as safe and uncongested as possible. Clear aims and guidance should be given to local authority planning departments on those objectives, so that problems do not occur from the moment that the houses are built.
Again, I welcome our ambitions to give people homes of their own. However, I urge my colleagues in the Ministry to take genuine concerns on board. I urge them to build to give people homes of their own, but also to plan to ensure that those people, and the existing community, have the quality of life that they so deserve.