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House Building and Planning

Volume 616: debated on Monday 24 October 2016

1. What recent assessment he has made of the effect on (a) house building and (b) affordability of housing of allowing urban property owners to build up, not out, to the height of the tallest building in the same block without requiring planning permission. (906722)

My hon. Friend highlights the importance of increasing brownfield development and building to higher densities to deliver more homes. I announced our plan for urban regeneration at our party conference and I will set out further proposals as part of our housing White Paper later this year.

I am delighted at the progress that my right hon. Friend has made so far, but may I urge him to go further still? I encourage him to include proposals to build up, not out, in his forthcoming White Paper, to cut development pressure on green fields, release huge numbers of new buildable sites, regenerate urban centres and, most important of all, cut the cost of new homes dramatically?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the need for more homes in the right places so that the housing market works for everyone. That means encouraging urban regeneration, making the best of brownfield land and building new homes where people desperately need them. Later this year, my housing White Paper will ensure that that happens across the country, including Weston-super-Mare.

Surely the Secretary of State is not going to fiddle-faddle with regulations like this at that level. What this country needs, given the housing and homes crisis—the deepest in a hundred years—is bold, imaginative innovation in the house-building programme, and we want it now.

I think “fiddle-faddle” is an appropriate description of what happened under 13 years of Labour government, when house building fell to its lowest level since the 1920s.

Recently the leader of Rossendale Borough Council and I wrote jointly to the Minister for Housing and Planning to say that our objectively assessed housing requirement did not take account of topographical and flooding issues in the Rossendale valley. Will the Secretary of State, on behalf of our hon. Friend the Minister, agree to a meeting with the leader of the local authority, Alyson Barnes, and me to discuss those specific issues?

My hon. Friend makes a passionate case, and while it would not be appropriate to comment on the details, I can make sure that the Minister for Housing and Planning meets him.

I declare my interest as a member of Kettering Borough Council.

My constituents would broadly support the idea of building up, not out, but in middle England towns such as Kettering, with its limited public transport options, the problem is that the more residents we squeeze into any street, the greater the pressure on parking spaces. Does my right hon. Friend accept that there is a big difference between inner-city developments and developments of this sort in middle England towns?

My hon. Friend is right, and highlights the need for correct and adequate infrastructure in towns and villages across the country if we are to build the homes that we need. The proposals that we will introduce later this year, including the White Paper, will certainly take account of that.