2. What support his Department provides for local authorities to encourage development of brownfield land. (908048)
We have introduced a range of measures to support brownfield land development, including the provision of £200 million to help to create housing zones outside London and the release of enough public sector land for 103,000 homes, which is above the target that we set ourselves. The national planning policy framework encourages the reuse of brownfield sites.
The leader of Pendle borough council, Councillor Joe Cooney, recently announced that the council will introduce a new £1.5 million fund for brownfield regeneration, making brownfield sites attractive and viable to developers. Will the Minister join me in welcoming Councillor Cooney’s leadership on this issue and assure the House of this Government’s support for local authorities that take the initiative to prioritise brownfield, such as Pendle borough council?
My hon. Friend makes a very good point, and has spoken to me extensively about the excellent work being done by Councillor Cooney and that council. I am pleased to welcome their positive initiative, which will help to make the planning process faster and more certain for developers in Pendle. I am pleased that we have been able to make £5 million available to local authorities who pilot local development orders that grant planning permission for housing on suitable brownfield sites.
I welcome the Minister’s response. If what he says is true, why was St Leonard’s hospital in my constituency given to PropCo—NHS Property Services Ltd—in the NHS and why has the fire station, which was closed, been sold for a rumoured £28 million, and neither for local housing? Does he not agree that the best thing for public health in the local area would be good-quality affordable housing for local families, and would he not like to see that happen?
Our target is to have 90% of brownfield land developed by 2020. We have made great progress, particularly on affordable housing, supplying almost 220,000 in this Parliament, and we are now building at the fastest rate in 23 years, but ultimately the planning decisions are for local councils and the local authority.