Like many who have spoken in the debate today, I arrived at this place as a councillor, having served for six years. I am glad we are having this debate, because the issue cuts to the heart of what is wrong with some aspects of our democracy and the way that some decisions are made. It is probably fair to say that very few of my constituents would have found out about the Westferry Printworks development if it had not been for the Secretary of State’s intervention in the planning process and the fact that it was then splashed all over the headlines. It is true that this is about a site in London, and my hon. Friend Apsana Begum has expressed eloquently the impact on her community, but it is also a familiar story to us all. It is a story about the power and influence of big property developers, the struggle to build affordable housing and address the housing crisis, and the needs of communities being ignored.
It is already well established that there is a housing crisis in the UK today. Recent research conducted on behalf of the National Housing Federation has estimated that 3.6 million people are living in overcrowded housing, that 2.5 million people cannot afford their rent or mortgage—