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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:46 pm on 3rd March 2020.

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Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Opposition Whip (Commons) 2:46 pm, 3rd March 2020

I thank Neil O'Brien for securing the debate and for raising a series of important issues about the planning system. I agree with him that the Land Compensation Act 1961 is in urgent need of reform. In fact, I introduced a Private Member’s Bill in the last Parliament to exactly that end.

We need to remove hope value from the planning system. Lest any Member is in doubt about why that is important, I give the example of a site in the middle part of Southwark—not in my constituency—that became vacant with an existing use value of £5 million, but was put on the market by the developer with an auction starting value of £25 million. That tells us about some of the gross injustices in our housing and planning system. The system recognises the right of a landowner to a windfall value of £20 million, over and above the right of residents in Southwark to genuinely affordable council homes on the same piece of land.

Reform is important, but cannot be limited to looking at hope value. That is important, but unless we also reform the definition of an affordable home, homes that are not affordable to the vast majority will continue to be built in this country. In my constituency, a definition of affordability recognises homes of up to 80% of market rental value as affordable. They are simply not affordable to the vast majority of my constituents.