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New Homes

Volume 637: debated on Monday 12 March 2018

Last year, some 217,000 homes were added to our housing stock in England. We have set out bold and comprehensive reforms to deliver on average 300,000 homes a year by the middle of the 2020s in England, including in last week’s publication of the draft revised national planning policy framework.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the enormous progress that he is making. Does he agree, however, that it will not be possible to get the housing shortage completely under control until we have brought migration levels down from the completely unsustainable heights that were created by Labour?

My hon. Friend will be pleased to hear that we are committed to both reducing net migration to sustainable levels and building the homes that this country needs.

Telford is a rapidly growing new town in which thousands of new homes are built every year, but for too many new-build homeowners, the reality is unfinished communal areas, unadopted roads, failure to comply with section 106, developers failing to take responsibility and the local council passing the buck. What will the Secretary of State do to strengthen the rights of new-build homeowners?

First, let me commend my hon. Friend for the work that she does through the all-party group on new towns. She is absolutely right to raise that issue and to emphasise the need for infrastructure alongside new housing. I know that she welcomes the housing infrastructure fund. In terms of holding developers to their commitments, I hope that she will contribute to our consultation on that topic, which was launched just this week.

20. Figures for York show that no new social housing has been commissioned under the current council for the last three years, except for older people’s accommodation, where there has been a net loss. The right to buy has made things worse. When, under the Government’s new planning framework, will the council be forced to build social housing in York? (904308)

We are working with councils throughout the country to help them to meet their housing needs, including through more social housing where that is required. The proof of that was in the last Budget, in which we increased the housing revenue account—the amount that councils can borrow from the Treasury to build more council homes and other types of social housing. If York wants to take advantage of that, it can.

23. Bristol has the highest rate of office-to-residential accommodation conversions outside London, and the permitted development rights scheme means that that does not have to involve any affordable housing element. What is the Secretary of State doing to ensure that councils such as Bristol can insist that affordable housing is built in our city centre? (904311)

The hon. Lady is right to raise the importance of affordable housing and having the right mix of housing everywhere, including Bristol. We are currently working with the Mayor of the west of England and the Mayor of Bristol on a housing deal which, if it happened, would include a significant portion of affordable housing.

Green-belt protections around Bristol and Bath are displacing housing targets beyond the green belt into Somerset. Should the councils unable to build enough houses be required to deliver transport and infrastructure plans that will service the commuting needs of new Somerset residents needing to travel through the protected green belt on their way to work?

We want to help all councils meet their local housing need, and that includes helping with their plans as they develop them, but also giving them more options other than looking at the green belt, as we did in the recent draft plan that was published earlier this month, and helping with infrastructure, which means the £5 billion housing infrastructure fund.

The previous Conservative Mayor of London set up the London housing bank, a loan scheme so restrictive that housing providers could not borrow from it. Will the Secretary of State explain why, instead of responding to requests from the current Mayor of London over the past 18 months to remove some of the restrictions on this scheme to enable much-needed affordable homes to be built, he has decided to withdraw the funding for affordable homes altogether? Will he also explain how it is that the first the Mayor’s office heard of this was via an article in The Huffington Post?

We all want more affordable homes, including of course in our capital city, and that is why over £3 billion was given to London for affordable housing in the spring Budget. It was the biggest ever settlement, and it was welcomed by the Mayor. Yet despite that, we have seen a fall in affordable housing delivery under Sadiq Khan. That is not acceptable: he needs to do much better.

Last week, the Government published the national planning policy framework for consultation, which, with clearer guidance to councils and developers, will help to deliver more homes and do so more quickly.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Charnwood Borough Council—for the sake for disclosure, I should say that my husband is the leader, although I refuse to call him that—has planning permissions for 10 years of housing, but the difficulty is getting the developers to start building. If that does not happen, that affects the five-year land supply, which leaves other sites vulnerable to development. Will the Minister tell the House what the Government are planning to do to speed up delivery by developers on planning permissions they already have?

The good news is that, in 2017, we saw 160,000 new homes registered to be built, which is the highest number since the financial crash. My right hon. Friend is right about speed. The NPPF will help to deliver that through the housing delivery test, and my right hon. Friend for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) is reviewing build-out rates.

I have no wish to be unkind to the hon. Lady, but let me put it this way: we have had a dose from Bath, and by long-standing convention, a Member is not called twice on substantive questions. If the hon. Lady seeks to catch my eye during topical questions, she may be successful. I admire her persistence, but I hope she will understand that that is the way we operate.