As we set out in the recent housing White Paper, we will consult on options for introducing a standardised approach to assessing housing requirements. We will do this at the earliest opportunity, and the outcome will be reflected in changes to the national planning policy framework.
Can my right hon. Friend confirm that now that the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk has an excellent local plan in place, it will not be overruled on appeal, so long as that plan is followed? Can he also confirm that the White Paper means that inspectors will now apply uniform criteria when calculating five-year land supply?
It would be inappropriate for me to comment on any particular plan that is in front of the inspectors, but we do want local authorities to put in place up-to-date robust plans, and we want to incentivise them to do so. Once adopted, we want plans to be respected and adhered to. My hon. Friend will know that having that five-year supply in place enables local authorities to protect their areas against unwanted development.
The North East Lincolnshire local plan includes an estimated 13,340 additional homes that need to be built up to 2032—an average of 702 homes a year. The number of homes classified as affordable that are being built in England has fallen to its lowest level for 24 years. Last year in North East Lincolnshire only 150 of those homes were completed, compared with 220 back in 2010—a fall of a third. Can the Secretary of State please explain why after seven years under this Government, affordable housebuilding is at its lowest—
We have put record amounts of investment into affordable homes, and we have listened to housing associations and asked them to clarify what will help them to deliver across the country, including in Lincolnshire. One thing they have asked for is more flexibility in the types of affordable homes that can be delivered, and we have provided just that.
Is it not vital that key decisions on housing targets in a local area are made by councils elected by local people?
I agree with my right hon. Friend. When it comes to planning in this country, it is a very important principle that the key decisions around allocating land for development and making decisions on planning permissions should be led by local areas.
Every area needs housing that is affordable to those on low incomes, but the building of social housing for rent is at a record low. In 2009-10, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth and Dearne (John Healey) was housing Minister, there were 40,000 new starts, but last year there were fewer than 1,000. Why is there next to nothing in the White Paper that will increase the amount of social rented housing, and why will the Minister not let councils borrow in order to build an adequate amount?
The Labour Government has form in this regard. The number of units available for social rent declined by 410,000 during their 13 years in office. Under this Government we have seen record levels of investment, including the £3.15 billion that was allocated to London alone in the last autumn statement.