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Housing Developments: Education and Health Infrastructure

Volume 672: debated on Monday 24 February 2020

10. What steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to ensure that local authorities include education and health infrastructure in housing developments. (900871)

I know how important it is to local communities for new development to be supported by infrastructure. In our manifesto we committed ourselves to delivering key infrastructure, including health and education, ahead of developments. The new single housing infrastructure fund will also help to provide the upfront infrastructure that is needed to support the new homes to which my hon. Friend has referred.

Aylesbury has seen considerable housing growth in recent years, but many of my constituents have been unable to get their children into the schools that are closest to them, even on new-build estates, because of a lack of places. Indeed, their children may attend different schools in places that are very far apart. What can my right hon. Friend do to ensure that infrastructure such as schools and doctors’ surgeries is in place before the new residents move into their homes?

My hon. Friend has made a good point. Of course, health and education providers should already be engaging with local planning authorities about infrastructure requirements in the areas in which they should be delivered. The implementation of our manifesto commitment—I have already mentioned the single housing infrastructure fund—will build on that approach, and will ensure that we can deliver the health and education infrastructure that is needed to support house building. I spoke to my right hon. Friend the Education Secretary just as a few days ago about the £2 billion or so that is available to the Department for Education to spend on school improvements, and I shall of course be keeping in touch with him.

Since the election in December, I have received countless emails and letters about our green belt in Coventry. In any upcoming review of the green belt, how will the Government ensure that local authorities can both deliver the homes that people need and protect our green spaces? Just this morning, Conservative West Midlands mayor Andy Street called for more funding to clean up brownfield sites so that new homes could be built. It is important for members of the next generation to have the opportunity to grow up in a healthy environment where they can play, explore, and learn about the natural areas in their communities, while also having homes that they can afford.

We are working with the mayor of the West Midlands to ensure that the right homes are built in the right places, through, for instance, a brownfield strategy. Of course the hon. Lady is right—we want green spaces that people can enjoy—but we also want homes that people can live in, and she cannot have it both ways. We want to build homes that people can afford to rent or to buy so that they have a stake in the country and a right to aspire to homes that they can enjoy and pass on to their families, and that is what this Government will deliver.