Westferry Printworks Development

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:40 pm on 24th June 2020.

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Photo of Robert Jenrick Robert Jenrick The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government 1:40 pm, 24th June 2020

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I do not think they actually want to hear an explanation.

We only have to look to London, which faces some of the most acute housing pressures in the whole country, to see examples of what a lack of leadership and ambition means on the ground. Under the current Mayor of London, housing delivery has averaged just 37,000 a year, falling short of the existing London plan and well below the Mayor’s own assessment of housing need. The average price of a new build home in London has gone up by 12 times average earnings. The need for bold action was clear earlier this year, when I was left with no option but to directly intervene in the Mayor’s London plan. I do not apologise for doing that, for continuing to push for homes to be built in our capital city, as across the country, to meet our ambition as a Government to build 300,000 homes a year and to give young people, families and the most vulnerable people in our society the opportunity and security that previous generations enjoyed.

In that endeavour, it is right that we seek to make the most of existing sites, particularly in urban areas, with jobs, transport links and other amenities close by— brownfield sites such as the one we are discussing today. That is why we as a Government and I as Secretary of State have consistently taken pro-regeneration decisions, in order to turn those sites into homes and into employment opportunities. This development would have done that, but every time a do-nothing Labour council and a do-nothing Labour Mayor plays politics with homes and jobs it is ultimately people who miss out. They miss out on homes and they miss out on jobs. That matters, because as we come out of covid and we are trying to recover our economy, we should be thinking about the brickies and the plumbers, the van drivers, the labourers—the people whose jobs and livelihoods depend on these projects. We will get building. We will build ourselves out of this crisis and create the jobs that we need in this country.

I hope that the publication of these documents and my remarks today will go some way to putting an end to the innuendos and false accusations from the hon. Member for Croydon North. He might just address the big issues, upon which he has been conspicuously silent since taking office. His predecessor, John Healey, used to raise rough sleeping, how we were responding to covid, and pressures on local council finances. He used to be constructive. He also used to probe and hold the Government to account. I cannot say the same for the hon. Member for Croydon North. He lives on his Twitter account, and he lives for smears and innuendos, not substance. He might speak to substance, not just party politics.