HC Deb 11 September 2003 vol 410 cc458-60W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if the Government will increase the proportion of affordable housing as a condition of granting planning approval for major developments. [128643]

Yvette Cooper

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has published for consultation an update of the existing guidance on planning for affordable housing. This addresses a number of matters including the size of development that could be expected to contribute to affordable housing and the circumstances when this would be appropriate. The amount of affordable housing to be sought from residential development as a proportion of the overall dwelling provision on site is currently indicated by local authority development plans. There are no proposals to set proportions through national guidance.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the Government took account of water, energy, and transport needs in the plans to build an additional 200,000 houses in South East England. [128641]

Keith Hill

The Government are taking full account of water, energy and transport needs.

Discussions were held with water companies by consultants who undertook the growth area studies for Ashford, Milton Keynes/South Midlands and London-Stansted-Cambridge that were published last year. Further detailed local studies are under way to help determine infrastructure requirements. Discussions have taken place and will continue between the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Water UK, involving the Department of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the water companies, the Environment Agency and OFWAT.

The Government are committed to increasing the standard to which all publicly funded housing is built. From April 2003, all new homes funded by the Housing Corporation are required, as a condition of grant, to achieve an EcoHomes "pass" rating. Housing associations are encouraged to aim higher and achieve a "good" rating. English Partnerships are already working towards the higher "very good" benchmark on their mainstream site disposals. The Millennium Communities programme, a scheme being taken forward by English Partnerships, is working towards the "excellent" target.

EcoHomes Standards cover matters such as access to public transport, proximity to local amenities, eco-labelling of white goods, provision of external space, the ecological value of the site, and water efficiency, all of which are outside the remit of Building Regulations. The revision of Part L of the Building Regulations, which deals with energy efficiency, that came into force last year is expected to produce savings of 1.4 million tonnes of carbon by 2010. The Energy White Paper announced a further review, with the aim of making further amendments by 2005. The review will seek to further reduce the carbon emissions from new homes, through measures like improving the thermal performance of the building envelope—both of which are EcoHomes targets. The Government are also considering how improved water efficiency can be achieved in the private-funded housing sector within developments in South East England.

Later this autumn, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will be holding a Better Buildings Summit, in conjunction with the Department for Trade and Industry and DEFRA, to consider issues relating to the efficiency of all buildings. The outcomes of this summit will feed into future Government policy.

Government transport investment of £2.2 billion in Thames Gateway and the three other growth areas will complement the £610 million the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is investing in directly targeted resources over the next three years, and lever in a further £3 billion from public and private sector partners.

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