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Affordable Homes

Volume 616: debated on Monday 24 October 2016

7. What steps he is taking to ensure that the planning system encourages the building of more affordable homes to rent or buy. (906732)

The Government continue to reform the planning system. We have set out our clear intent to intervene on those councils that do not have an up-to-date plan. We have legislated to ensure that the planning system delivers starter homes for first-time buyers, as well as affordable homes for people wanting to rent.

I thank the Minister for that answer. The recently published Greater Manchester spatial framework states an ambition to

“significantly increase the supply of housing that people can afford, including through the planning system.”

How will Greater Manchester be able to achieve that ambition, given that the Housing and Planning Act 2016 lets developers off the hook by effectively ending their obligation to provide affordable homes to rent and buy?

The Housing and Planning Act does no such thing. The hon. Lady’s question made it clear that she was interested in more affordable homes for people to rent or buy. The Act requires developers to provide affordable starter homes for first-time buyers, but there will still absolutely be a determination to deliver affordable homes for rent. I look forward to visiting Greater Manchester shortly to discuss these matters.

Developments such as Chapel Hill in my constituency will have 40% affordable homes. Does not that show that the planning system already gives local authorities the relevant powers they need, and that they should be using them in the same way as Conservative-led Basingstoke Borough Council?

I had the privilege of meeting the chief executive of my right hon. Friend’s council the other day, and I commend the council for its work. Her example clearly shows that our aim should be to deliver affordable homes to both buy and rent.

16. In Cumbria, we suffer from brain drain, as graduates do not want to return to us after university. Proper planning for affordable housing in the rural north could be the answer. As well as attracting young talent, that could take pressure off the London housing crisis. Will the Minister ensure that we do not have a one-size-fits-all planning policy for affordable housing? (906743)

I thank the hon. Lady for her excellent question. Too often, the housing problems that we face are portrayed as a problem for just London and the south-east. The Secretary of State, the ministerial team and I are clear that we need a housing policy that delivers more homes right across the country, and recognises the circumstances in different housing markets.

In Bath, all our brownfield sites will be developed by 2025 to 2030, with the only nearby sites being the brownfield land south of Bristol that has been left undeveloped for decades by the Labour council and Labour Mayor of Bristol. Does my hon. Friend agree that the changes in the last planning Act and the infrastructure Bill will make a huge difference to developing brownfield land across the whole of the south of Bristol and west of England?

My hon. Friend makes a good point. Brownfield registers and permission in principle can make a big contribution to ensuring that as much development as possible goes on to brownfield sites. The example he gives also shows the benefit of sometimes working across councils, as is happening in Greater Manchester, to plan for strategic housing needs.