Home Building

Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – in the House of Commons on 9 January 2023.

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Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Chair, European Statutory Instruments Committee, Chair, European Statutory Instruments Committee

What steps his Department is taking to support the building of high-quality homes.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The design of our homes matters. That is why we have already taken steps to embed design quality in the planning system through changes to national planning policy and guidance. Furthermore, the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill requires areas to adopt local design codes, setting clear rules for development.

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Chair, European Statutory Instruments Committee, Chair, European Statutory Instruments Committee

I thank the Minister for that answer. Councils can only require developers to build homes with energy measures that are in line with national guidelines. What work is being done to update these frameworks so that developers can be mandated to install measures such as solar panels or ground-source heat pumps and thereby reduce carbon emissions and, crucially, cut domestic energy bills?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the importance of ensuring that our homes use green energy. In 2021, the Government introduced an uplift in the energy efficiency standards that means that new homes are now expected to produce 30% less carbon dioxide than the current standards. Furthermore, that is just a stepping stone to the 2025 future homes standard. Although we do not mandate specific technologies to enable innovation and tailoring to individual sites, we expect that most developers will use solar panels or heat pumps to meet those new standards.

Photo of Paulette Hamilton Paulette Hamilton Labour, Birmingham, Erdington

It has been six months since Birmingham City Council applied for round 2 of the levelling-up fund. Sadly, Ministers overlooked our bid in round 1, but that was two Governments ago. I am grateful to the Minister for Levelling Up for confirming that the results of the second round will be announced by the end of this month. If our bid is successful, the funding will totally transform Erdington High Street—

Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Labour, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle

The Welsh Labour Government have applied schedule 3 to the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, which provides minimum standards for sustainable urban drainage systems on new housing developments. New properties in England lack those same statutory flood protections. The Government launched a review last year, so when will its results be concluded and when will schedule 3 be applied here so that homes in England can have the same standard of flood protection as those built in Wales?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The Government have taken a number of actions on flood and waste water management, which we have increased through the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill. We will respond in due course to the consultation that the hon. Lady talked about.

Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government)

Happy new year, Mr Speaker.

Reference to high quality housing is often a shorthand for reference to expensive housing, yet in my community nearly 6,000 people are on the council house waiting list, so we desperately need affordable homes that are of high quality. Will the Minister agree to change planning law so that councils such as mine in Cumbria and in our national parks have the power to enforce 100% affordability, so that we build to meet need not just demand?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I have had a number of conversations with the hon. Gentleman, and he knows that we are taking steps to help improve and build homes in his area. Not only do we have the £11.5 billion fund, but we have taken steps on the issue of second homes that he and other hon. Members on both sides of the House have raised with me, so that we ensure that people who live in particular areas continue to live there and use their services.

Photo of Richard Bacon Richard Bacon Conservative, South Norfolk

Does the Minister agree that the best way to build high quality homes is to give the greatest choice to the people who live in them as to what is built? Can she think of any ways in which we might encourage that?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I wonder whether my hon. Friend is talking about self and custom-build, about which I have had many conversations with him. He knows that we are strengthening the ability in the Bill to build such homes.

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Happy new year, Mr Speaker.

The Government’s decision to signal the end of enforceable local house building targets has already resulted in a number of local authorities pausing work on their local plans. I have a simple question for the Minister: has her Department carried out any analysis or assessment of the impact on overall housing supply of the changes to national planning policy outlined in the national planning policy framework consultation that is now under way?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The simple fact is that under the present system, too few local authorities have local plans, because people do not want development in their area. Through the Bill, we are seeking to ensure that communities have a say on their local plans so that those plans are passed within the 30-month time limit that we have set out in the Bill.