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BYERS PROMISES CHANGES TO INCREASE COUNCIL POWERS ON AFFORDABLE HOMES

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By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley ...
By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley

Local authorities in future may be able to attach planning conditions requiring affordable housing to be included in retail and commercial developments.

DTLR secretary Stephen Byers told MPs that local authorities should look constructively and imaginatively at how they could use its present powers under the planning system.

He added: 'There is one constraint that I want to change. At the moment, it can attach conditions on affordable housing only to applications for residential development. It would be far better if it were also able to apply such a condition to retail and commercial development.

'That would clearly create an opportunity to make more affordable homes available. There are ways forward. It is a serious issue and one which we are taking seriously'.

He was replying to David Cameron, Conservative MP for Witney, who said West Oxfordshire DC was spending£20m over the next five years on social housing. One problem, however, was the shortage of land for sale. Allowing councils to pay slightly over the odds for land for social housing or reducing the number of private houses that need to be built before a council could insist on social housing would help overcome the problem.

Mr Byers said he wanted to give local government freedom to invest in capital without needing the approval of central government.

To Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North - who asked Mr Byers to insist that all developments included at least 50% affordable housing - the secretary of state said it would be wrong to have a fixed percentage. Each application should be judged on its merits, in relation to each site.

Hansard 21 May 2002: Column 137-140

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