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New emphasis on family homes. For the first time the planning system will be required to consider the housing needs of children, including gardens, play areas and green spaces. Local authorities will have more ability to promote mixed communities and to ensure larger homes are being developed alongside flats and smaller homes.
A continuing focus on brownfield land, retaining the national target that at least 60 per cent of new homes should be built on brownfield land. Local authorities will need to continue to prioritise brownfield land in their plans and will need to set their own local targets to reflect available sites and support the national target. They will also need to take stronger action to bring more brownfield land back into use, supported by the new National Brownfield Strategy led by English Partnerships. In response to the consultation we have also introduced new safeguards so that local authorities can ensure their brownfield approach is delivered, to support regeneration and to prevent developers concentrating only on greenfield sites.
More flexibility for local authorities to determine how and where new homes should be built in their area, alongside greater responsibility to ensure the homes are built. Local authorities will be able to set their own local standards for density (with a national indicative minimum of 30 dwellings per hectare) and for car parking. They will also be able to set separate targets for different kinds of brownfield land where appropriate, to give them more flexibility to shape new developments to meet the needs of their local area.
Stronger policies on affordable housing. The new definition of affordable housing will concentrate public funding and planning contributions on genuinely affordable housing. In addition local authorities will be able to require developer contributions to affordable housing on smaller sites where it is viable.
Stronger emphasis on rural affordable housing. Following the recommendations of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission, local authorities and regional planning bodies will have to take greater account of affordability pressures in rural areas, and the need to sustain village life by providing additional housing that is sensitive to the area and the environment.
We are also publishing today a statement on delivering affordable housing, intended to support local authorities and other key players in delivering more high quality affordable housing within mixed sustainable communities by using all the tools available to them. It provides information on how existing delivery mechanisms operate. This statement should be read in conjunction with Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing (PPS3), but is not itself planning guidance. It is available on the Communities and Local Government website at www.communities.gov.uk
The National Brownfield Strategy team within English Partnerships, in its role as specialist adviser to government on brownfield land issues, has been working with us and a wide range of stakeholders for the past three years to develop a National Brownfield Strategy for England, to help understand and overcome the problems which are preventing brownfield sites from being brought back into use. The strategy considers brownfield use in the widest sense including all types of development as well as various green end uses, such as parks.
The strategy consists of two documents; the first, a substantial best practice guide The Brownfield GuideA Practitioners Guide to Land Re-use in England; and the second, a short policy discussion paper that sets out the policy issues raised by stakeholders and through English Partnerships own work in developing the guide. The policy discussion paper suggests a set of overriding principles for brownfield development and sets out a number of outline policy proposals for further discussion at a
29 Nov 2006 : Column WS100
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (John Hutton) has made the following Statement.
I am pleased to announce that from 1 December 2006 Sir Richard Tilt will serve a further three-year period as Social Fund Commissioner for Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Sir Richard, who has already served two terms as commissioner, was successful after an open recruitment exercise.
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