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House of Commons Hansard
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05 November 2018
Volume 648

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5. What steps his Department is taking to reduce the time taken to build new homes. [907436]

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The publication of the national planning policy framework provides greater clarity and certainty for the development of homes. We are examining the recommendations of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) on the build-out review and will respond in full in February.

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The Government would see greater progress in their quest to shorten the time it takes to build new homes if people were able to have greater confidence in the design and layout of large housing developments. I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the steps he is taking to get that done, but does he agree that what really worries people is not only the housing but the inability to provide adequate social infrastructure to cope with massive amounts of new housing where there simply is not currently the infrastructure to support it?

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I recognise the points that my right hon. Friend highlights and welcome his support for the Building Better, Building Beautiful commission, which will look at that sense of place and the identity between our built environment and how we live our lives. He also rightfully highlights the issues relating to infrastructure. I hope that he will welcome the extra £500 million that the Chancellor committed in last week’s Budget to the housing infrastructure fund to deal with the issues that he rightly points out.

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Some 140,000 children are waiting in temporary accommodation for new homes. In the meantime, how long does the Secretary of State think it is acceptable for a child to have to travel to school—two hours? Three hours? Some children are getting home at 9 pm because their school is so far away from where they are placed.

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The point that the hon. Lady makes is about the need to build more homes, which is precisely what we are doing as a Government. We are ensuring that housing associations are building more with the £9 billion fund, and by lifting the borrowing caps we are ensuring that councils can build more, along with what the private sector is doing. That way, people can have strong communities and the services that they need close at hand.

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Does the Secretary of State recognise that one of the best ways to bring forward more new homes quickly is to support my Housing Reform Bill, which has support from Members from all parties, including some of the House’s most distinguished Members? The Bill’s requirement on the Secretary of State to provide serviced plots for sale or for rent to rich people and poor people, social tenants and others, would do a lot to solve our housing crisis.

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I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his tireless championing of the issues that he has highlighted. The Minister for Housing will meet him shortly to discuss a number of the elements that he has highlighted. I hope that he recognises some of the steps taken through the national planning policy framework that will support his agenda.