HC Deb 26 June 2003 vol 407 cc897-900W
Mr. Pickles

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he last met representatives of the house building industry to discuss house building in England; and if he will make a statement. [113566]

Mr. McNulty

My ministerial colleagues and I have met frequently with the industry to discuss issues affecting house building.

Recent meetings with individual developers have included my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister and Wimpy on 7 April and my right hon. Friend the Lord Rooker and representatives from Berkeley Homes Group on 12 May.

Ministerial colleagues and I also meet with industry representative groups. I met with the Housebuilders' Federation on 17 January this year and my right hon. Friend the Lord Rooker spoke at the Housebuilders' Federation annual lunch on 8 April and met with representatives from the Housing Forum on 12 May. We also have contact with the industry through larger events, for example the Regional Housing Conferences. My right hon. Friend the Lord Rooker recently toured the exhibitions and spoke at the BRE showcase for off-site manufacture at Watford.

Officials of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also meet with the industry, both individually and in groups on a wide range of issues affecting housing, planning and sustainable communities.

Tim Loughton

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many new houses have been built in(a) Adur district, (b) Worthing borough and (c) West Sussex in each of the last six years; how many more need to be built in order to meet the Government's housebuilding targets; and by what date the houses need to be built. [114822]

Mr. McNulty

The numbers of new dwellings completed in Adur district, Worthing borough and West Sussex are shown in the following table. Annual rates of housing provision are kept under regular review and are established through regional planning guidance and the spatial strategy it sets out.

Number of new dwellings completed
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Adur District 62 96 144 49 54 26
Worthing 58 242 81 206 80 162
West Sussex 2,812 2,533 2,015 1,757 1,462 2,094
Dr. Kumar

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he is taking to investigate the link between housing policy and children's health policy; and what plans there are to create a dedicated task force to investigate the link. [114296]

Mr. McNulty

The Government recognise the relationship between housing conditions and health, including children's health. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is developing a plan of action on housing and health alongside the Department of Health and others. This work is a key part of our cross-Government strategy to tackle health inequalities, and the needs of children will be a very important element of it.

To tackle poor health associated with housing conditions, the Office has set a target to bring all social housing up to a decent standard by 2010, and to increase the proportion of private housing in decent condition occupied by vulnerable groups. The number of non-decent homes in the social sector has already been reduced by about 700,000 since 1996. The Office has also set a target to end, by March 2004, the use of bed and breakfast accommodation for families with children except in emergencies, and then for no longer than six weeks; and is currently consulting on proposals to make it unlawful for local authorities to exceed this six-week deadline.

The draft Housing Bill contains proposals for a Health and Safety Rating System to establish health and safety hazards in the home as the basis for enforcing better housing conditions, with particular emphasis on the impact of these hazards on people most vulnerable to them.

Mr. Wray

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what measures he has taken since 1997 to provide improvements to housing in poorer inner city areas throughout the UK; and what proposals he has to regenerate these areas further. [115132]

Mr. McNulty

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is responsible for housing in England only. Responsibility in other parts of the UK rests with the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and my right hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced policies on the issue of housing in the Communities Plan—"Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future" and is committed to improving the quality of social housing by making all social housing decent by 2010.

PSA target 7 reads: by 2010, bring all social housing into decent condition with most of this improvement taking place in deprived areas, and for vulnerable households in the private sector, increase the proportion who live in homes that are in decent condition.

In the 88 most deprived districts there was a decrease in the proportion of non-decent homes from 52.3 per cent. in 1996 to 38.7 in 2001.

The National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal sets out plans for narrowing the gap between the most deprived neighbourhoods in England and the rest of the country.

Mr. Sayeed

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps his Department is planning to take to co-ordinate his recently announced housing plans for Milton Keynes and Multi-modal Study Paper with the emerging district-based community housing plans. [115936]

Mr. McNulty

The conclusions of the independent study into the housing potential of the Milton Keynes and South Midlands area are being reviewed as part of a series of local growth area Assessments for its main settlements, including Bedford and Luton/Dunstable/Houghton Regis. These will also take into account the London-South Midlands Multi-modal Study. Bedfordshire county council and all the district authorities are represented on the Assessments steering group alongside other regional partners. This process will ensure the proposed alterations to Regional Planning Guidance for the Area, on which future district housing plans will draw, are grounded in a realistic appreciation of deliverability and ensure sustainable patterns of growth.

Richard Burden

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the operation of the Housing Density Directive; how many planning applications have been refused or called in; and which local authorities are affected. [114901]

Mr. McNulty

The Town and Country Planning (Residential Density) (London and South East England) Direction 2002 applies to local planning authorities in the area covered by Regional Planning Guidance for the South East (March 2001). Local planning authorities are required to consult the Deputy Prime Minister before giving planning permission for low density housing on large development sites. To-date there has been one notification. The planning application has been called in by the Deputy Prime Minister for his own determination and will be subject to a local inquiry.