Housing Delivery Test Debate

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Housing Delivery Test

Baroness Thornhill Excerpts
Wednesday 18th March 2020

(11 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

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Asked by

Baroness Thornhill Portrait Baroness Thornhill
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the results of the Housing Delivery Test, published on 13 February.

Baroness Thornhill Portrait Baroness Thornhill (LD)
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Weird, isn’t it? My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and declare my interest as a vice-president of the Local Government Association.

Earl of Courtown Portrait The Earl of Courtown (Con)
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My Lords, following the publication of the housing delivery test results, we are engaging with those authorities facing challenges and, through the Planning Advisory Service, providing guidance to those authorities needing to produce action plans. Action plans published from last year’s results show that the authorities are taking the right steps to identify the causes of reduced housing delivery and will be working proactively to address these issues.

Baroness Thornhill Portrait Baroness Thornhill
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I thank the noble Earl, but will he take seriously the concerns about the housing delivery test? Councils are now not only responsible for the delivery of homes in their area; they get punished if they fail to do so, including through the removal of their planning powers. Yet councils—this is the rub—have zero powers to ensure that planning permissions, once granted, are built out. In fact, none of the eight interventions that the Government suggest in the relevant planning guidance pertain to the delivery of homes after planning permission. Can the Minister assure me that this test and its effectiveness will be looked at specifically in the forthcoming planning White Paper? You do not fatten a pig by weighing it.

Earl of Courtown Portrait The Earl of Courtown
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My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her question. The fact is that the country needs houses. There is a commitment to 300,000 new houses, we have announced work in the Budget and, as she says, there will be White Papers on future planning and housing. All these are aimed at moving on so that we can achieve this challenging—I must agree with her—target.

She also asked about the test and how it will progress. As she knows, where delivery falls below 95%, the local authority should prepare an action plan proactively to identify the causes, but only when it falls below 45% does the presumption in favour of sustainable development get applied.