Combatting Covid remains the key focus for Government and I am acutely aware that Sussex case numbers are alas rising around us.
However alongside this Government is advancing a huge range of vital issues. Negotiations on our future trading relationship with the EU are ongoing. I would be delighted to spend Christmas in the Commons legislating for a trade deal – but this does require EU acceptance of the new sovereign status of the UK. Hopefully a deal that is in everyone’s interest can yet be concluded.
The proposed changes to housing numbers have been subject to productive and intense discussion with Ministers. I was delighted to hear yesterday from the Housing Minister that after representations and considering these and broader changes in the housing market the Government has looked again at future housing distribution.
As ever I am keen to see the detail but the direction of travel is absolutely right.
It really is necessary for us as a country to build more homes – the question is where. Left entirely to its own devices the market will expand rapidly on green fields in the South East. That influenced by the country we are – with the whole region impacted by the vastly productive global city that is London. The country we want to become is one in which prosperity is shared more widely across the United Kingdom which makes for a more productive and (I hope) more united nation. It also reduces the risk of over-development in currently heavily in-demand areas like our own.
The principles now being adopted emphasise renewal in out great Cities. Coronavirus has emphasised a need, and changes in working practices help create an opportunity, to rebalance our City centres. We will also help kick start the revival of our economy outside the South East, building on the foundations of existing great skills, academic institutions and businesses through investment in housing alongside the infrastructure development which can truly galvanise local productivity.
These changes will not mean no building locally, Horsham already has extremely demanding targets. Nor does it mean that discussions won’t continue on other aspects of the Planning White Paper. However the numbers methodology would have led to much greater pressure locally, were the most pressing issue and did not require a parliamentary vote.
It is absolutely right that the Government airs different approaches to achieving national goals – including that of building homes for our growing population. However it is also great that consultation means exactly that: I would like to thank all those who wrote in to respond to the consultation.