Derek Thomas made a powerful speech in the House of Commons today in support of the government’s reforms of the planning system. The housing crisis in Cornwall can only be resolved by building houses - and we now have the opportunity to build them in a sustainable way.
Today’s debate was an Opposition Day Motion - when the Labour Party chooses a subject that they think will embarrass the government. This week, they chose planning reform. The government’s planning White Paper aims to make it easier for communities to get the housing they need. The Labour Party thought the government would lose its nerve, after the Liberal Democrats won a by-election on a platform of opposing development. Labour’s parliamentary tactic didn’t work - the government aren’t going to change track.
Derek spoke in support of the government’s plans:
We need the planning White Paper to deliver the right housing in the right places for the right people, and we cannot get close to delivering on the Government’s levelling-up agenda unless we get the housing right.
Derek believes that the housing crisis in Cornwall needs housebuilding:
I know that my local community in west Cornwall and on Scilly would rally behind house building if my constituents knew that local families would be provided with homes they can afford and can call their own.
But he asked the Housing Minister to take a closer look at the situation in Cornwall and consider three key areas:
- The housing policy must ensure that houses are available for local people, and the problem of people from outside buying second homes needs to be addressed.
- Housebuilding needs to strengthen existing communities, with new family homes to help the viability of pubs, post offices and schools. Derek spoke of the “fantastic” school in Coverack, which needs local housing to be built in the next three years for its plans to survive to be viable.
- Housebuilding must provide opportunities for jobs and apprenticeships in vibrant local businesses as houses are built and existing houses retrofitted to meet our emissions targets.
I am glad to have been able to speak in this debate on this critical issue. I would be absolutely wrong not to stand up for my constituents and those in the rest of Cornwall who are struggling today to be able to live in the place that they call home.
Read Derek's speech here