SIR NICHOLAS SOAMES SPEAKS IN TOWN AND VILLAGE PLANS DEBATE

30th January 2018

Sir Nicholas’s Soames Intervention During Debate on Town and Village Plans - 30th January, 2018.

Debate on Town and Village Plans

House of Commons

Tuesday 30th January, 2018

Unlike my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Sir Hugo Swire), I am not in the least bit surprised about the Minister’s trajectory. I know that he will be paying careful attention to what is said today. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman) on his speech and I agree with every word. Indeed, I agree with all my hon. Friends. I will make four brief points.

First, I endorse what my right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert) said. Neighbourhood plans will produce more houses by consent than anyone believes is possible, hence the importance of sticking to the system.

Secondly, the integrity of the system is vital. Local people spend hundreds and hundreds of hours of their own free will making a great effort to produce these plans, and it is vital that they are honoured. I am encouraged by the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell) that the national planning policy framework needs to be strengthened. I would welcome that.

Thirdly, I say again—it cannot be said too often—that the behaviour of some major developers is appalling. It traduces our constituents and our constituencies, our elected councillors and our district councils. It is the kind of behaviour up with which the Government should not put.

Finally, if people are prepared to spend all that time and effort on producing something very important to them, those efforts should be respected in all honour. My right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs and I have difficulties in that regard, but as he said, it is important that those efforts are honoured and that the Government play a straight bat with local communities.

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Have the Government considered, or are they considering, limiting the amount of time for which builders can hold on to land before building on it?

As a new Minister, lots of helpful suggestions come my way. That is something that we will consider, in the context of both the Letwin review and some of the interesting policy submissions that have already been put to me. I undertake to have a look at that point.

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The debate was secured by Sir Nicholas Soames’s colleague, George Freeman MP. The full debate together with the response by the Housing Minister may be downloaded here.

Hansard
Tuesday 30 January 2018
Volume 635
No 88