Housing, Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th June 2018.
What steps his Department plans to take to enable local authorities to prioritise brownfield regeneration.
This Government are continuing to identify ways to ensure that local authorities make full and efficient use of brownfield land, including through changing the national planning policy framework, supporting the reuse of buildings through permitted development rights, and requiring every authority to publish and maintain a register of brownfield land suitable for housing.
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, but what progress has been made in giving Homes England the powers and resources it needs to acquire sites in fragmented ownership in order to deliver regeneration for our communities?
My hon. Friend is well known for his work in ensuring that brownfield land is prioritised for development. The Government are currently working up the details of a new £1.1 billion land assembly fund to enable Homes England to work alongside private developers to develop strategic sites, including new settlements and urban regeneration schemes. Homes England is also encouraged to use its powers of compulsory purchase, where necessary, to deliver community regeneration.
Where local authorities have a shortage of brownfield sites, will they be exempt from the requirement under the new national plan proposals, and will the Secretary of State reserve the power to call in such a decision?
The Government do not have the ability to force local authorities to build on brownfield sites. I am sure we can write to the hon. Gentleman to get specific details of the needs of his local authority area.
With former offices currently being converted into high-quality apartments in Cheadle Hulme, it is clear that first-class housing can be built using existing brownfield land and through office redevelopments. Does the Minister agree that district centres can be revitalised with permitted developments that provide much needed local town centre homes?
Again, my hon. Friend is a fantastic champion for her local area. It is very important that her local authority continues, with the Government, to identify ways to increase the take-up of these sites, especially for new homes, and to ensure that suitable brownfield land is prioritised for development.
Recent figures from the Campaign to Protect Rural England show that the amount of farmland, forest, gardens and greenfield land lost to development each year has increased by 58% over the past four years. What are the Government going to do to better protect our vital green spaces and redevelop our brownfield sites, which are so urgently in need of regeneration?
The hon. Lady makes a very important point. She will no doubt be aware of the protections in the NPPF to ensure that green-belt and greenfield sites are protected. I encourage all right hon. and hon. Members to remind their local authorities that there are protections in that policy framework.
As the Minister will know, I recently wrote to the Secretary of State to make a strong case for calling in a decision made by Labour-controlled Bradford Council to build 500 houses on the green belt in Burley in Wharfedale in my constituency. Given that Bradford’s Telegraph & Argus has reported today that Bradford Council is taking out of the plan a brownfield site in the city centre where more than 600 houses would have been built so that it can be used as a car park until at least 2024, will the Minister confirm that there can clearly not be “exceptional circumstances” to justify building 500 houses on the green belt in Burley in Wharfedale?
I am afraid that I have not read this morning’s Telegraph & Argus and seen that particular news; I shall try to get a copy by the end of today. I am sure that my hon. Friend realises that I cannot comment specifically on such a case. I understand that my colleague the Minister for Housing will be writing to him in very short order.