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Housing and Planning Bill: Lords agree to Commons’ amendments

Words: Laura Edgar
Social housing / Shutterstock_199093037

The House of Lords has agreed to a number of amendments to the Housing and Planning Bill put forward by the House of Commons, including one on starter homes.

Lord Kerslake “reluctantly” withdrew his amendment (10B) on starter homes yesterday, during a ping-pong session in the House of Lords.

The amendment would have meant that where a local authority can demonstrate need for other types of affordable housing it would be able to meet all or part of the starter homes requirement by delivering alternative types of affordable housing.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis said on Monday (9 May) that the amendment would “totally undermine” a commitment made in the Conservative Party’s election manifesto last year. 

Baroness Williams of Trafford, Conservative, and sponsor of the bill, reassured the house that the government is “completely committed” to ensuring that a range of housing tenures come forward and it is consulting with the sector on the percentage requirement of starter homes.

She then invited Kerslake to withdraw his motion to insist on amendment 10B, expressing her hope that the Conservatives’ “clear manifesto commitment” for starter homes means that there is “no need to divide your Lordships’ House”.

Kerslake said he “severely doubted” whether the manifesto commitment would deliver what is intended but recognised it is a commitment and that ministers are concerned the amendment would undermine it.

He said: “I am alert to the minister’s assurances on the consultation and the flexibility that will be built in. At this point I will, therefore, reluctantly withdraw the motion.”

Baroness Parminter withdrew her amendment on the neighbourhood right to be heard.

The amendment would have meant a local authority, or the secretary of state, when considering an application or permission in principle, would have to regard policies in a adopted or emerging neighbourhood plan. Additionally, before making a decision, local authorities would have to give the relevant neighbourhood planning body 21 days to make recommendations, which must be taken into account and if an application is passed against the recommendation of a neighbourhood planning body, permissions can’t be granted until the secretary of state has been consulted.

Trafford said that although the government can’t support the amendment, “I understand the advantage of an approach that is based on the existing call-in system and the constructive manner in which it was laid”.

She said the government is “willing to look at this issue further, and I hope that provides the reassurance to the noble baroness for her to withdraw her amendment”.

Parminter said she accepted that there is “more than one way to achieve what we all want to achieve”.

“In withdrawing this amendment, I hope that the minister’s comments yesterday about working with colleagues applies not only to colleagues in the other place, but to colleagues in this house who feel so strongly that local communities need to be involved and that that will help us to deliver the sustainable homes that we need.”

However, the House of Lords did agree to an amendment tabled by Kerslake relating to the Right to Buy.

Amendment 47E makes changes to clause 72, which gives the secretary of state the power to make an agreement with a local authority to reduce the amount the local authority has to pay from the sale of high-value, vacant local authority housing.

The amendment would mean that any agreement between a local authority and the secretary of state must be sufficient to fund the provision of at least one new affordable home outside of Greater London and two inside.

Kerslake said the amendment also gives “a local authority the opportunity, where it can demonstrate a need for social rented housing in its area, to make the case for the secretary of state to consider”.

The house supported the amendment by 265 votes to 245.

The Lords accepted an amendment on sustainable drainage, which would mean the secretary of state must carry out a review of planning legislation, government planning policy and local planning policies concerning sustainable drainage.

In addition, Trafford moved to agree with a Commons amendment that would mean the secretary of state must carry out a review of any minimum energy performance requirements approved by the secretary of state under building regulations.

Read more here:

Government defeated on starter home proposals

Lords vote through 4 amendments 

Lord inflict further defeats on the government 

Lords pass third reading amid more amendments

Government blocks Lords’ starter homes amendments 

Lords vote to reinstate amendments 

Commons reject Lords’ Right to Buy amendment

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