Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Blogpost: Vital year coming up for housing

Blogpost: Labour leader slams Tory attitude to housing

On the eve of a Basildon Council meeting to discuss whether to put its draft Local Plan out to public consultation, the Conservative government in Westminster have conspired to rush through a Housing Bill – in just six hours – that may have devastating consequences for councils and families across South Essex.

We have begun the debate over where to build over 15,000 homes by 2037. Aligned to this are requirements and expectations for the required infrastructure to go hand in hand and for full cognisance to be paid to the changing demographic of the towns and communities that exist along the South Essex corridor.

In other words, in respect of housing, it is vital that we have scrutinised the powers that developers will have going forward on the future of social housing, on whether there is a suitable number of accessible homes to meet the needs of a rising elderly and disabled population, on the level of starter homes to be provided and any changes to what constitutes an affordable home.

When contemplating all of this you very quickly come to appreciate how important it is to ensure that any Housing Bill that passes through the legislative process in this parliament addresses each of these concerns and that the public has had its say and is able to lobby MPs with their views, as well as ensuring amendments are properly scrutinised and expertly assessed.

By no reasonable measure can either Jackie Doyle-Price or Stephen Metcalfe claim their government has followed a robust and suitable process before they voted on a Housing Bill. It was rushed through with a clear absence of scrutiny last night. The laws on unintended consequences will inevitably come back to haunt the Conservative government.

People across Thurrock and Basildon appreciate that planning law is extremely complex and that we are currently bogged down by landbanking and a failure from developers to build homes and develop areas with adequate infrastructure. Any Housing Bill should have given the public confidence that these flaws in existing legislation will be addressed, amended and where possible, removed.

Following that latest Conservative debacle, the public can have no such confidence.


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