Skip to main content

Housing Regeneration: Former Industrial Areas

Volume 717: debated on Monday 27 June 2022

6. What support his Department is providing to deliver housing regeneration in former industrial areas. (900717)

Our levelling-up White Paper makes a new offer to support transformational regeneration in towns and cities across the country. We have already announced our support in Wolverhampton, Sheffield and Blackpool We are providing billions of pounds to support regeneration through our brownfield housing funds and levelling-up fund.

Will the Minister and his colleagues look at the wider remit of the Department, namely levelling up and communities, to deliver a workable policy on private-sector housing regeneration? My constituency suffers from a plethora of absentee landlord-owned derelict properties that are often a focus for crime and antisocial behaviour. Will the Secretary of State and the Minister listen to communities in Blackhall, Horden, Dawdon and Easington Colliery, which are in desperate need of levelling up in the form of housing regeneration, and come forward with a workable plan based on need rather than a beauty contest?

The hon. Gentleman is right to highlight that matter, and we do take it incredibly seriously. Officials were up in his area not so long ago looking at those very issues. We are proud of the fact that we are getting a lot of support from political leaders of all persuasions to work with us in our mission to level up and address the very issues that he has just highlighted.

We all know that Stoke-on-Trent was the beating heart of this country’s industrial revolution. It is thanks to this Government and their investment in brownfield sites that we are building, on average, 1,000 new homes a year, of which 97% is on brownfield land, such as the Royal Doulton site that the Secretary of State recently visited. We have a game-changing agreement between Stoke-on-Trent City Council, ably led by Abi Brown and Carl Edwards, the portfolio holder, and Homes England to bring transformative and quicker housing to the city of Stoke-on-Trent. Will the Housing Minister welcome this landmark local council agreement?

I can do nothing but welcome my hon. Friend’s enthusiasm for his city and for the amazing work that has been going on there. The collaboration between the Department, the Government and the city council under Abi Brown’s excellent leadership, shows that there is transformational change happening in Stoke-on-Trent, thanks to the fact that it has Conservative representation.

I welcome the initial support—it is initial I am sure—that the Government are giving towards regeneration in my constituency. However, there is a problem. Initially, Sheffield Council was planning under the local plan to build around 40,000 homes in the next 15 years. With the metropolitan uplift, that has increased the number to more than 50,000. That will mean unnecessary building on greenfield sites, which otherwise could have been saved, and it will take the impetus away from building on regeneration brownfield sites. Will the Minister agree to meet me and representatives of the council to discuss how we can avoid this double disaster from happening?

How could I possibly turn down an invitation to meet the Chair of the Select Committee? On the uplift, we are clear that this should be about the identification of existing sites and the regeneration of brownfield sites to meet that uplift. I will of course meet him to ensure that that happens. Regeneration is what we want, and I am glad that we are helping out in Sheffield.

Will the Minister take action to remove the excessively high housing targets that the Mayor of London has inflicted on the London suburbs, because they are making it harder and harder to turn down proposals that amount to overdevelopment?

My right hon. Friend has knocked on my door on many occasions to raise many of the issues that she has highlighted in her constituency. I would be happy to meet her again to talk about exactly what she has just raised with me.

There are nearly 200,000 fewer council housing properties today than there were in 2010. How have a Government who are committed to levelling up allowed that to happen?

Because we have given people the opportunity to become home owners for the first time in a generation. I am proud of the fact that we have done that, but my right hon. Friend and I are determined that we will do all we can with our £12 billion affordable homes programme to create more homes in constituencies such as that of the hon. Gentleman.[Official Report, 30 June 2022, Vol. 717, c. 6MC.]

As the Minister will be aware, both my constituents and I are deeply concerned that Three Rivers District Council continues to delay publishing a local plan until at least 2025. Local Liberal Democrat councillors are telling residents that it is Government targets rather than the lack of a local plan that is destroying our beautiful green spaces. Does my right hon. Friend agree that councils such as Three Rivers District Council need to publish a local plan as soon as possible to protect our beautiful green-belt land rather than blaming Government housing targets?

What a surprise that the Liberal Democrats are trying to spell out myths in my hon. Friend’s constituency. If they care so much about this issue, it is a shame that not a single one of them is in the Chamber for questions today. He is right that his council needs to get on with the local plan, and I encourage it to do so, because that will give the people in his community surety about where houses will be built.