Housing

Deputy Prime Minister written question – answered on 11th February 2004.

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Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman Conservative, Chipping Barnet

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what standards have been established for the Government's plans for the redevelopment of the Thames Gateway in respect of (a) the residential density of new housing developments, (b) the proportion of development land that is expected to be previously-developed land, (c) design quality, (d) construction quality standards, (e) the accessibility of new housing to local amenities, (f) public transport accessibility and (g) the use of sustainable construction methods.

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Minister of State (Housing and Planning), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

For the Thames Gateway and elsewhere:

(a) (b) Planning Policy Guidance note 3 (PPG3) has introduced a series of tough new measures designed to meet the country's future housing needs in the most sustainable way possible. This includes a sequential approach which gives priority to re-using brownfield sites in urban areas in preference to developing Greenfield sites. In addition, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has a national target that, by 2008, 60 per cent. of additional housing should be provided on previously developed land and through conversions of existing buildings. One of the key features of the Thames Gateway as a suitable location for sustainable development is the presence of a substantial reservoir of brownfield land. In the period 1997–2000 an estimated 80 per cent. of new dwellings in the Gateway were built on previously developed land. The targeted investment now being mobilised through funding from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Department for Transport, Regional Development Agencies aims to maintain this trend by increasing the viability and potential development density on key sites in the Gateway. PPG3 also encourages housing development that makes more efficient use of land (between 30 and 50 dwellings per hectare) and seeks greater intensity of development at places with good public transport accessibility.

(c) Planning Policy Guidance note 1 (PPG1) requires that

"good design should be the aim of all those involved in the development process and should be encouraged everywhere".

This policy is supported by our good practice guidance "By Design".(d) (g) all new homes have to comply with the requirements of the Building Regulations so that they are healthy, safe, energy efficient, and accessible by disabled people. In addition, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's increased funding for the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) will allow it to provide greater support to delivering high quality, sustainable housing. CABE is establishing a Housing Quality Forum to disseminate best practice within the growth areas (including the Thames Gateway) and together with the House Builders Federation and Civic Trust has developed a Building for Life Standard to incentivise house builders to improve their product.

(e) (f) Government planning policy (in particular Planning Policy Guidance note 13) is to promote accessibility to local amenities by public transport, walking and cycling. In his statement on 30 July 2003, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister identified public transport infrastructure projects that are critical to supporting growth in the Thames Gateway. These included projects to improve strategic links within the Gateway through the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) and to improve public transport capacity and connections in major development locations through extensions to the Docklands Light Railway network and bus transit systems for East and South-East London and Kent Thameside. Since this statement, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has approved a consultation exercise by the Strategic Rail Authority on a proposed Integrated Kent Franchise that incorporates CTRL domestic services to Stratford and Ebbsfleet. An informal offer of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) credits to enable the Mayor to take forward the multi-modal Thames Gateway Bridge proposal has also been made.

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