Parliament returned this week from the summer break with a heavy legislative programme ahead.
One of the areas that I know will keep Ministers busy will be the issue of Planning Reform on which the Government has launched a consultation.
We live in an area well-loved for its combination of good connectivity, many highly regarded services (including excellent schools), attractive market towns and villages and internationally renowned countryside. It is no wonder that the last Halifax survey rated this area one of the most attractive and sought-after places to live in the country.
These characteristics residents want to enjoy now and pass on to future generations.
We are all also aware that across the country as a whole there are those who struggle to find an affordable way of getting their own roof over their heads, to rent or to buy. In my lifetime the population of the UK has increased, mainly as a result of people living longer, from 55 to 66 million. House building has not kept pace with demand.
It is to meet this concern that the Government has brought forward proposals which would have the effect of increasing the number of houses built nationally including in the Horsham area.
We need to be smarter about the way we build: residents are not convinced that new housing delivers improved services and infrastructure to their local area; environmental standards can be improved in new builds and infrastructure must be well coordinated. The current system, without doubt, can be improved.
There is also the basis on which housing is allocated – what is reasonable and proportionate and how this is best determined.
I will be working with the local councils and parliamentary colleagues to ensure that these factors are fully taken into account. The return of Parliament provides a range of opportunities for views to be communicated. This is early days in what I have no doubt will be an intense period of deliberation around these proposals.
Everyone is welcome to reply to the consultation and contributions are very much welcomed. You can respond, if desired via https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future
Photo Credit: Jeremy Quin visited the Capitol last week to hear about their current programme - all supported by Covid precautions - and also see the impressive improvements which have been put in place during the enforced closure.