During Oral Questions for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in the House of Commons on Monday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray highlighted how important it is to let local people decide how many new homes should be built in their area.
Before the debate, Mr Gray said:
“I recently attended a meeting with Malmesbury Town Council in my constituency, discussing local planning concerns and how strengthened neighbourhood planning would prevent opportunistic planning applications by developers. It is my sincerest hope that the upcoming housing White Paper will address this issue and reform the planning system to give a bigger voice to local residents”.
In the House of Commons Chamber, Mr Gray added:
“I am sure that the Minister would agree that by far the best people to decide how many homes we want and where they should be are local people. Would he therefore agree with me and the town of Malmesbury in my constituency, which raised the point that the neighbourhood plan, which this Conservative Government brought in, is currently being trumped by the so-called five-year housing land supply figures, which are handed down by central Government? Will he give me a hint as to whether greater importance will be given in the forthcoming housing White Paper to neighbourhood planning, thereby allowing local people to decide how many houses they want and where?”
The Minister for Housing, Christopher Pincher MP, praised Mr Gray’s contribution, responding that:
“I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question, because it gives me the opportunity to make it clear that it is for local communities to determine how many homes they want and need in their vicinity. Local housing need numbers are not an end point; they are a starting point. It is for local authorities to determine what constraints they may face to determine the numbers of homes that they need in their area. They then agree those numbers with the Planning Inspectorate to set a sound plan, and that is then the number that the local authorities build toward. Local authorities that fail to set an up-to-date plan leave their constituents at risk of speculative development, so it is for local authorities to set the numbers and make their plans.”