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2 Jun 2009 : Column 460W—continued

Mr. Plaskitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will take steps to enable local authorities with retained housing stock to increase the supply of social housing: and if she will make a statement. [277532]

Mr. Iain Wright: We already expect and encourage local authorities to use their planning powers to help increase the supply of social housing. We announced in the Budget £100 million of new funding for local authorities to deliver new social housing at higher energy efficiency standards. In addition we have just concluded consultation on allowing local authorities to apply for any new council houses they build (or acquire or otherwise bring back into use) to be held outside the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Subsidy system. This will enable them to keep the rental income and sale receipts of any such properties, which, to date, has proved a disincentive to build.

While authorities without stock will be free to apply for both grant and exclusions from the HRA Subsidy system, we expect that it will be authorities with retained stock that will have the capacity to take advantage of the opportunity.

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) local authorities and (b) housing associations have exchange schemes for social housing tenants who wish to move to a different area. [277701]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix collects information from local authorities on dwellings let through mutual exchanges. However, there is no direct question that identifies how many local authorities have exchange schemes for their tenants. As this information is not routinely gathered, to assemble these data would represent a disproportionate cost to the Department.

The Continuous REcording System (CORE) collects information from local authorities and registered social landlords but mutual exchange schemes fall outside the scope of this. As this information is not routinely gathered, to assemble these data would represent a disproportionate cost to the Department.

Housing: Rural Areas

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of housing survey coverage in rural areas; and if she will make a statement. [276644]

Mr. Iain Wright: In determining levels of housing provision, local planning authorities and regional planning bodies should take into account evidence of need and demand, set out in Strategic Housing Market Assessments, and other relevant market information.

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The framework set out within our Strategic Housing Market Assessments Practice Guidance provides advice on the use of surveys where they are feasible and appropriate. Our guidance specifies that in rural areas the costs of face-to-face interviews can be expensive and a postal survey may be a more viable option.

The review by the hon. Member for St. Austell, “Living Working Countryside”, published in July 2008 highlighted the problems of local authorities’ information on housing need, particularly in rural areas. We are now seeking views on proposals to reward rural local authorities which are working with parish councils to:

The proposal is contained in the consultation paper “Housing and planning delivery grant (HPDG): Consultation on allocation mechanism for Year 2 and Year 3” published on 12 May.

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many households in rural areas were living in temporary accommodation at the latest date for which information is available. [276645]

Mr. Iain Wright: Information about English local authorities’ actions under the homelessness legislation (part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) is collected quarterly at local authority level.

Data collected include the number of households accepted by local housing authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty (to secure that suitable accommodation is available). If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority must secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available.

Information on the number of households housed in temporary accommodation is reported quarterly by local authorities as at the last day of each quarter. The figures include: those households which have been accepted as owed the main homelessness duty; those for which inquiries are pending; those being accommodated for a limited period because they have been found intentionally homeless and in priority need; those being accommodated pending possible referral to another authority, and those being accommodated pending the outcome of a local authority review or county court appeal.

Of the total 67,480 households in temporary accommodation on the 31 December 2008, 3,840 of these households were housed by local authorities defined as predominantly rural (with at least half of their population living in rural areas).

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new affordable rural homes in smaller settlements have been completed since 2008. [276646]

Mr. Iain Wright: Of the total number of affordable housing completions recorded on the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) investment management system (IMS) for 2008-09, 2,420 were in small settlements in England.

The number of local authority affordable housing completions in small settlements is not collected centrally.

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Small settlements are defined as settlements with a population of 3,000 or less.

Housing: Standards

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) local authority and (b) registered social landlord properties in each region do not meet the Decent Homes standard because of overcrowding. [276274]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Decent Homes Standard itself does not specifically cover overcrowding. ‘Crowding and space’ is one of the 29 hazards within the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). To be decent, a home must be free of all Category 1 hazards under the HHSRS and also meet the other three criteria (adequate thermal comfort, repair and modern facilities and services). Under the HHSRS, crowding would constitute a Category 1 hazard if the property and its occupancy constituted an unacceptable risk of serious harm. A home is considered to be non decent through a HHSRS failure.

The 2006 English House Condition Survey, published in 2008, estimated through modelling that there might be fewer than 50,000 homes in this category for all tenures (private and social) across the country.

Local Development Frameworks

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department plans to provide funding for local planning authorities to undertake changes to local development frameworks contained in the proposed Planning Policy Statement 4. [277240]

Mr. Iain Wright: As noted in the consultation impact assessment accompanying the new streamlined Planning Policy Statement 4 (PPS4), we do not envisage that our proposals will impose additional burdens or extra costs on local planning authorities. We believe that there is potential for real cost savings in the medium to long-term by presenting policies for economic development in an integrated way, particularly in terms of speedier and better quality plan making, and decision taking in respect to planning applications.

In particular, the revisions proposed to planning for town centres policy are amendments to the existing policy as set out in PPS6 “Planning for Town Centres”, and are designed to improve the effectiveness of our 'town centres first' policy rather than making any fundamental change. Similarly, the approach to planning for economic development is intended to build upon the existing policy approach in PPG4 “Industrial, Commercial Development and Small Firms” by reinforcing messages and emphasising certain aspects of the approach.

Local Government: Camden

Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what requirements her Department has placed upon the London Borough of Camden to ensure it reduces its carbon emissions arising from (a) housing stock, (b) business premises, (c) schools and (d) public buildings; and what steps her Department takes to monitor compliance with such requirements. [275103]

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Mr. Iain Wright: Government planning policy, contained in PPS1 Planning and Climate Change, requires planning authorities to set out percentage targets for low carbon/renewable energy sources in new developments. Performance against target is monitored through annual monitoring reports.

Part L of the building regulations sets minimum energy efficiency standards for new buildings and when certain categories of building work are carried out on existing buildings e.g. extensions, conversions, renovations, replacement windows and boilers. The Government have announced that they intend to seek progressive improvements in part L standards and has set targets for all new homes to be net zero carbon from 2016 and has similar stretching ambitions for new non-domestic buildings.

In addition, all new affordable housing receiving social housing grant through the Homes and Communities Agency must be built to at least Code for Sustainable Homes level 3 standard.

As part of the new Government performance framework, Camden is required to report against National Indicator 185—CO2 reduction from local authority operations and National Indicator 186—per capita reduction in CO2 emissions in the local authority area. In addition, Camden has selected National Indicator 186 as a stretch target and action under this indicator is critical to achieving the Government’s climate change objectives. Performance will be monitored by the Audit Commission under the comprehensive area assessment (CAA) which will look at how well Camden’s services are working together to improve the quality of life for local people. CAA will be a catalyst for better local outcomes, more responsive services and better value for money and an independent evidence base for central Government on progress against national priorities.

Local Government: Influenza

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent
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assessment her Department has made of the levels of preparedness of local authorities for an influenza pandemic. [277028]

Dawn Primarolo: I have been asked to reply.

Local authorities have to decide how to meet their legal obligations to plan for an influenza pandemic under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. Local authority compliance with the Civil Contingencies Act duties is assessed by the Audit Commission as part of their Comprehensive Performance Assessment process.

As members of Local Resilience Forums (LRFs), local authorities have played a full part in the development of local multi agency pandemic influenza plans. Over the last year, these plans have undergone validation by local responders and Government offices and at least one LRF plan per region has been tested via a table top exercise. Lessons identified will be shared locally.

Plans are available on local LRF websites and can be accessed through the UK Resilience pages of the Cabinet Office website:

Planning Permission

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many planning applications for (a) residential and (b) commercial developments have been (i) granted and (ii) declined in (A) Leicester and (B) England in each of the last five years; and what the most common reason for the rejection of such applications for (1) residential and (2) commercial developments was in that period. [276225]

Mr. Iain Wright: The number of planning applications for residential and commercial developments that have been (i) granted and (ii) declined in Leicester and England in each of the last five years is set out in the following table:

Planning decisions on residential and commercial developments in Leicester and England
Leicester( 1) England( 2)
Dwellings Commercial( 3) Dwellings Commercial( 3)
Period Granted Refused Granted Refused Granted Refused Granted Refused























































(1) Figures as reported by Leicester.
(2) England figures have been rounded to the nearest 100 and include estimates for non-responding authorities.
(3) Includes offices, research and development, light industry, general industry, storage, warehousing, retail distribution and servicing.
(4) April 2008 to December 2008. Information for January to March 2009 to be published on 26 June 2009.
(5) Provisional.
Communities and Local Government General Development Control Returns

Reasons for rejections for such applications are not collated centrally.

Property Development

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has given on (a) the composition of and (b) the role of commercial developers in housing market partnerships. [277019]

Mr. Iain Wright: Our guidance on completing Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments, published in support of Planning Policy Statement 3, sets out very
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clearly the importance of a partnership approach in identifying land for housing.

It says that regional planning bodies and local planning authorities should work together, and with key stakeholders, to undertake assessments to ensure a joined-up and robust approach. Assessments should preferably be carried out at the sub-regional level, for separate housing market areas, by housing market partnerships (where established). Housing market partnerships should include key stakeholders such as house builders, social landlords, local property agents, local communities and other agencies, such as English Partnerships (now the Homes and Communities Agency) where they have a recognised interest in an area.

Key stakeholders should be involved at the outset of the assessment, so that they can help shape the approach to be taken. In particular, house builders and local property agents should provide expertise and knowledge to help the partnership to take a view on the deliverability and developability of sites, and how market conditions may affect economic viability. Key stakeholders should also be involved in updating the assessment from time to time.

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