Government Planning Policy — 20 Jun 2000

That this House condemns the apparent intention of Ministers to ignore the recent vote by members of SERPLAN to limit the number of new houses built in the South East and to 'punish' members of SERPLAN for taking that decision; calls on Ministers to abandon their attempts to impose overall figures for new housebuilding on regions of the country; deplores the Government's failure even to meet its own targets for new development on brownfield sites; regrets the continuing decline of towns and cities and, on almost the first anniversary of the Rogers Report, the Government's failure to address the vital issues of urban regeneration, or growing internal migration and the drift from towns and cities to the countryside, or homelessness; and calls upon the Government to halt the decline of the cities, bring forward measures to protect greenfield sites and the Green Belt, and take steps to return more power to local communities to decide planning and housebuilding priorities.

taking a carpet knife to an old master.--[ Official Report , 2 November 1999; Vol. 337, c. 103.]

Anything above what Serplan recommended is unacceptable.

Richard Payne of Bedfordshire county council said:

In Bedfordshire we have taken heed of Government advice and consulted every district council, parish council and stakeholder with an 80 per cent. response. Almost all of these were totally opposed to the type of increase that the Government is proposing.

Let there be no doubt that demand for additional housing in the south-east is not the result of massive north-south migration, but mainly the result of migration within the south-east, particularly from London to surrounding towns and villages--[ Official Report , 7 March 2000; Vol. 345, c. 864.]

it is about housing for the sons and daughters of existing residents, and people who are essential to the local economy.

We feel very let down. The Government claims to be committed to . . . the environment and regenerating urban areas . . . now we have them supporting plans to rape 2,000 acres of Green Belt

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:

"welcomes the Government's move away from the previous 'predict and provide' approach to housing provision and the introduction of a 'plan, monitor and manage' policy under the new regional planning policy arrangements, including a target for building 60 per cent. of all new housing on previously developed land and the tightening of planning controls on out of town shopping and ending the profligate use of land; supports the Government's policies on protecting the Green Belt and improving the use of all land and preventing piecemeal greenfield development; believes the Government's planning, housing, transport, countryside protection, welfare and economic policies will achieve more sustainable and equitable patterns of both urban and rural development; welcomes the Government's continued commitment to sustainable growth, safeguarding the countryside and promoting an urban renaissance; supports the targeting of regeneration initiatives in areas of greatest need and the Government's inter-linked policies for revitalising towns and cities and protecting the countryside; and applauds the Government's aim of giving everyone the opportunity of a decent home and recognises that the doubling of housing investment and other social housing reforms introduced by this Government are creating stronger, safer and more sustainable communities."

If we accept that there is a demand for 4.4 million or more new units we could of course simply refuse to allow the demand to be met. The trouble with that answer is that the people who would be

hit are those least able to cope with the result, and often the most deserving of a new home. It will not be the richer and more competent members of society, since they can afford to pay the high prices which such a shortage would inevitably produce. It is also quite clear that no government would see this solution as remotely politically possible . . .

People who see house prices rocket, and who find that they cannot afford the home which they once expected to buy, will take their political revenge.

The European Commission has thrown Government efforts to encourage development of former industrial "brownfield" sites into disarray.

Current regional guidance . . . sets a regional housing provision--

of 57,000 dwellings per annum--

projected future average rates of net migration--

the changing relationship between population and households.

smaller family size, earlier household formation (young people leaving home and forming separate households sooner), increasing longevity and high divorce/separation rates.

I emphasise that 70 per cent. of new households over the next 20 years will be single person households.

Some will be youngsters setting up home. Some will be people living independently of their families. Some will be elderly people living longer . . . Many will need well designed, well located homes for rent or to buy that are affordable and that give them a range of choice and a better quality of life. We must therefore plan for those changes.--[ Official Report , 7 March 2000; Vol. 345, c. 863.]

Local Government First , which I dealt with in my intervention, reported that the EU Commission had ordered the Government to stop giving grants to assist companies in clearing up contaminated brownfield land earmarked for redevelopment. The Government failed to mention that when the issue was debated in Westminster Hall on 13 June. Did the Minister make no mention of such a problem because it is new, or was it in existence on 13 June? If it is a problem, and the Government cannot overcome it, their aim of having 60 per cent. brownfield redevelopment by 2008 will be completely in disarray. Contaminated land often lies in the heart of our cities, in the old industrial urban areas, the very areas that need to be revived if we are to witness an urban renaissance.

would not add to our understanding.

Ordinary people would be priced out of the market . . .

neither these nor the new regional development agencies will make much difference.

A clear pattern is emerging whereby current policy intervention rolled-out from London is undoubtedly having the effect of widening regional disparities.

So are all the new closes and cul-de-sacs being filled with migrants from Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle? Not at all. The majority of new housing estates are being occupied by people who were already living in the region.

And what is driving the need for new houses is the growth in the number of single households, fuelled by climbing divorce rates and our ageing population.

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will take note of The Sunday Telegraph .

Question , That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

The House divided: Ayes 175, Noes 326.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 137 (+2 tell)086.9%
Independent0 1033.3%
Lab326 (+2 tell) 0079.0%
LDem0 34072.3%
PC0 2050.0%
UUP0 1011.1%
Total:326 175079.2%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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