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Housing (Leeds)

Volume 532: debated on Monday 5 September 2011

It is not for central Government to assess local plans. Our planning reforms make it clear that it is for local councils to assess their local needs and to plan to meet those needs in a way that reflects local priorities.

I am grateful for that reply. What steps is the Department taking to provide guidance to support investment in brownfield and inner-city locations to generate much needed employment and reduce the damaging impact on the environment caused by developing greenfield sites? Will the Minister also look again at counting windfall sites in the five-year plan?

It is certainly proper for local planning authorities to take into account windfall sites, but it is also necessary for every planning authority to ensure that it has sound evidence-based proposals for housing in particular, as well as for other development. I know that my hon. Friend is particularly concerned about the situation in Leeds, and it is really for Leeds to develop its evidence base so that plans can go forward in a sensible and sustainable way.

Kirkstall Forge in Leeds West is a brownfield site that has planning permission for 1,000 new homes. However, if they are going to get built, the Department for Transport needs to invest in a new railway station, which, as things currently stand, is on hold. Is there any joined-up thinking in this Government to ensure that such developments get the go-ahead and deliver much needed new homes?

The hon. Lady has made her point, so let me make mine, which is that it is very much for the planning authority approving a development to see what the associated infrastructure should be and how to create the investment force that can deliver it. The new homes bonus will deliver a substantial amount of additional money to Leeds, which can borrow against it in advance to develop the infrastructure that it needs.