To build back better is not a simple catchy headline. The Government is right to set this ambitious agenda ensuring that our country’s footing is built on opportunities for all and robust measures to secure a positive future wherever people live. This week I spoke in the Queen’s Speech debate relating to housing. The Government’s Planning White paper commits to building homes for everyone who needs it and commits to new homes being 70% efficient. I can understand why the Government has targeted this figure as we are still a long way off having everything in place to build homes at scale that are carbon neutral. However, I feel impatient about this. Housing accounts for 14% of the total UK emissions so I was glad to contribute to the debate to make the case for stepping up our efforts to drive harmful emissions from our homes. The Planning White Paper must have tangible and ambitious measures to deliver environmental protections and climate change mitigation. This must be part of the legislative framework that determines the quality and efficiency of new homes.
We then have a fighting chance of meeting the ambitious decarbonisation targets set by Government. The Government and Queen’s Speech sets out a commitment to support growth through significant investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation, and to pursue growth that levels up every part of the UK and enables the transition to net zero. There is no better way to do this than to transform the house-building sector towards a highly skilled, highly motivated workforce that leads the world in developing and building homes that are great to live in, cheap to run and are carbon neutral. To take it a stage further and truly ‘level up’ we must also improve the quality and efficiency of our existing homes. I know how challenging this is as I attempt the very exercise on my own home.
Cornwall Council have developed an ambitious plan to retrofit 75 thousand homes priced at £1.5billion so I’m acutely aware of the scale of the task. If anything the task faced to retrofit existing homes should hasten our efforts to build carbon neutral homes at the outset. So let the battle with policy advisors begin! I was delighted to learn this week that the Government has confirmed the £10.4m Future High Street’s Fund for Penzance. I’m exceptionally pleased for the team of volunteers and council officers who have worked to secure this. It is part of a investment programme that I know has the potential to lift Penzance and create the confidence we need to recover and recover well. As we now take the steps to open up even further following a year of restrictions and lockdowns I sincerely wish every business and employer a prosperous year. Nearly every household depends in some way on a strong and vibrant local economy and I’ve every confidence in our ability to get things moving again.