Thursday 11th January 2024

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Naseby Portrait Lord Naseby (Con)
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My Lords, as the National Planning Policy Framework’s primary purpose is more homes, is it not strange that His Majesty’s Government have yet to make any statement about a new concept of the new town movement? You can see on the ground the wonderful work that was done as long ago as the 30s with the garden city just alongside the A1—I drove past it yesterday. Then there are the new towns. My former constituency was Northampton, and there is the new city of Milton Keynes, which was only a village before. That concept surely has to have a role, modernised to meet today’s requirements in the future.

Secondly, my noble friend quite rightly says: “Yes, more new homes”. But is not the problem at the moment that the developers do not have the confidence that she clearly has? The figures for 2023 are very low. Are they not going to be only marginally better in 2024? Against that background, will His Majesty’s Government bring in new incentives for young couples to be able to provide some of that demand, so that developers can have some confidence to move forward?

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My noble friend makes two very good points. England has a proud history of new town development, and well-planned, beautifully designed, locally led garden communities are playing a vital role in helping to meet our housing need, through providing a stable pipeline of new homes. The Garden Communities programme supports local authorities to build places that people are happy to call their home. That programme was launched in 2014, and has awarded over £58 million of capacity funding to assist places to deliver their proposals for housing. A further £12 million has also been invested to deliver the infrastructure critical to unblock the delivery of homes. The 47 locally led garden communities have the capacity to deliver over 300,000 new homes by 2050. That is something that the Government absolutely continue to support.

The number of planning consents being down was referenced by the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor. When it comes to the wider conditions in the housing market, we recognise that this is a challenging time. The broader economic conditions we face due to very high levels of inflation, and the high interest rates that are in place to bring that down, make it harder for people to get on the housing ladder. That is why this Government have been focused, laser-like, on tackling inflation. We met our commitment last year to halve the level of inflation, and are back on the road to the Bank of England’s 2% target. That is the most effective way in which we can make sure that people are able to afford their mortgages and access the housing market in the way they wish to. But there are also important things that we can do—for example, ensuring that our affordable housing programme continues throughout this period to provide more stability and certainty in terms of the pipeline of new homes while it is a difficult market out there for housebuilders.