Housing and Planning — [Sir Charles Walker in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 3rd March 2020.

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Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Conservative, Harborough 2:30 pm, 3rd March 2020

My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. That is why we must change the objectively assessed need process and choose to build more in our cities. We must support such developments and do all the other things required to support their levelling up.

Secondly, we need a clear vision of what kind of development we want, because while there will always be some developments in the shires and suburban areas, at the moment we mainly have piecemeal infill-type development tacked on to the edge of villages. Developers prefer that, because it is much more profitable as they do not have to pay for the new GP surgery, the new school, the new road and so on. Instead, those developments piggyback on existing facilities. Infill is the type of development that attracts the most opposition. That is not surprising, because it takes place next to existing residents who have chosen to live on the edge of a village or town to get a nice view.

There are physical limits to how much can be added to a place without it losing its character, because roads through the centre of a village become congested and cannot be widened, and the village school cannot be expanded even if the money is available, because it is completely surrounded by houses. In larger strategic developments, which lots of councils now want to move towards, developers do not build next to so many existing residents, the infrastructure can be planned properly and people do not have to live on arterial roads. Let us give councils the tools, the fiscal firepower and the legal ability to have genuinely planned development, not a free-for-all.