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Healthy Homes Bill [HL]

Volume 830: debated on Friday 19 May 2023

Third Reading


Moved by

A privilege amendment was made.


Moved by

My Lords, I would like to take a moment to say a few words of thanks. First, I thank all noble Lords on all Benches who have supported this so wholeheartedly and brought expertise and experience to bear on it. I recognise that there was one voice against the Bill, and I would like to acknowledge the very courteous discussions I have had with the Minister. I hope to persuade her on these matters in the context of a different Bill at a later point.

I also thank those in the Public Bill Office, in particular Theo Pembroke, who have been very helpful in making sure that the Bill would work properly in law. Outside your Lordships’ House, I also thank the TCPA, particularly Hugh Ellis, Dan Slade and Rosalie Callway, who have made such a contribution to preparing the Bill. Finally, I thank the supporters of the Bill outside this House. I note that this now includes developers and insurers.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, for all his work on this matter and for bringing the Bill forward. We supported it and continue to support it because we believe it is important for the Government to build a new wave of affordable, healthy homes in which families can settle with a real sense of security.

The levelling up Bill is being discussed—some of us were again here quite late last night—but that does not bring anything forward to ensure that affordable and healthy homes are built to the high standards we need. We have heard about this in previous debates on this Bill. I hope the Minister takes up the offer of further discussions with the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, to see if this Bill can be accepted or whether we can table amendments to the levelling Up Bill on this matter on Report that are acceptable to the Government. Again, I thank everyone for their work on this Bill.

My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, for his expert and committed stewardship of this Bill. I have been extremely grateful for being able to meet him and understand his passion for the healthy homes principles. I hope we will continue that discussion moving forward, particularly with the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill.

I also acknowledge and thank the Town and Country Planning Association for its work on this important Bill. Healthy homes and neighbourhoods are important to our communities, and it is because of this importance that we focus on achieving that objective. The planning system strives to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development, with the National Planning Policy Framework containing a very clear policy on sustainable development that recognises the importance to health, well-being and recreation of open spaces and green infrastructure. The policies in the framework lay out how to achieve healthy, inclusive and safe places.

In addition, permitted development rights have been a well-established part of the planning system for many years, supporting businesses and home owners. In response to the criticism about the quality of some homes delivered under permitted development rights, we now require that all new homes must meet as a minimum the national described space standards and must provide adequate natural light in all habitable rooms. The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill is how we plan to modernise our planning system and put local people back in charge. It will lead to a system through which development is shaped around the interests of communities.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, again and assure him that I entirely understand the spirit of his proposals and the importance of the subject matter. However, the Government are confident that those matters are already being considered and addressed through existing laws, systems and national planning policy and associated design guidance, and that the balance between these is broadly appropriate. Therefore, we cannot support the Bill.

My Lords, may I make two very quick points in reply? First, I am again very grateful to everyone who has supported the Bill; I have seen the strength of feeling around the House. Secondly, I say to the Minister that I am delighted there is so much common ground between us on this. I am also delighted that, on PDR, which has caused so many of the problems we are talking about, the Government have moved some way in this direction by introducing two sorts of standards. My Bill obviously proposes that we should introduce a wider range of standards in order to ensure that it is properly about healthy homes.

Bill passed and sent to the Commons.