Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Beckett softens approach...?

Planning Resource website

Government plans to build ten eco towns by 2020 is now a "hope" rather than a target, new housing minister Margaret Beckett has told a Commons Select Committee.
Beckett also called the government’s target of building three million homes by 2020 an “ambition”.

It is markedly different language from the defiant line taken by former housing minister Caroline Flint.

Beckett was first responding to Sunday newspaper reports that the DCLG has concluded only “one or two” of the 15 short listed projects are genuinely viable.

“We are only at the first stage of consultation. We have had a substantial response and we are continuing with the hope that we will be able to identify ten (sites) at a later stage,” she said.
When asked if government is sticking to its pledge to increase house building to 240,000 homes a year by 2016, she replied: “I think the most challenging of the targets was the three million, but that was an ambition actually, rather than a target.

“The target was the figure for 2016 and that is something we will have to see how we can address.”

The incoming minister said there were no plans “at the present time” to scrap the target.

1 comment:

terry knott said...

communities and local government committee

departmentAL aNNUAL rEPORT 2008

monday 13 october 2008

Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 - 105

1. This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.

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4. Prospective witnesses may receive this in preparation for any written or oral evidence they may in due course give to the Committee.

5. Transcribed by the Official Shorthand Writers to the Houses of Parliament:
W B Gurney & Sons LLP, Hope House, 45 Great Peter Street, London, SW1P 3LT
Telephone & Fax Number: 020 7233 1935

Oral Evidence
Taken before the Communities and Local Government Committee
on Monday 13 October 2008
Members present
Dr Phyllis Starkey, in the Chair
Sir Paul Beresford
Mr Clive Betts
John Cummings
Andrew George
Anne Main
Dr John Pugh
Memorandum submitted by the Communities and Local Government to the CLG Committee for its inquiry on the 2008 Annual Report and Resource Accounts (AR08-01)

Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Mr Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary, Mr Richard McCarthy, Director General, Housing and Planning, Mr David Rossington, acting Director General, Communities Group, Ms Hunada Nouss, Director General, Corporate Delivery and Sir Ken Knight, Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, gave evidence.


Chair: Can we move on then to eco-towns?
Q19 Anne Main: Why has the announcement of sites for eco-towns been delayed from this month until next year?
Mr McCarthy: There is a two stage consultation process and we will be shortly publishing the next stage of consultation which will include a draft planning policy statement and a draft sustainability appraisal. When the process started earlier in the year this was explained. The reality is that we had a very strong response to the first round of consultation and therefore we have been taking some time to properly consider those consultation responses so we are a little later coming out with the next round of consultation than originally anticipated. We are reaching the end of that process of analysis and I hope that fairly shortly ministers will be able to publish that draft planning policy statement and draft sustainability appraisal. That is absolutely essential. That will mean that the announcement of locations identified as being suitable for eco-towns will now occur next year and not this calendar year.
Q20 Anne Main: What is a strong response? What do you mean when you say you had a strong response?
Richard McCarthy: I cannot tell you the numbers off the top of my head. We will have to write to you to tell you how many people responded.
Q21 Anne Main: Are you saying they responded positively or negatively?
Richard McCarthy: We had a mixture of responses actually. We have a coalition of 22 external organisations formed in favour of eco-towns. I think there is quite a mixed response out there. There is some anxiety amongst local communities and it is important to recognise that. [Understatement of the year] The process of concluding the sustainability appraisal is a complex one and we need to make sure, quite rightly and properly, that what we come out with is in a strong place and can then result in a successful second round of consultation.
Q22 Anne Main: Three of the original applications have now been withdrawn. Do you still anticipate having ten eco-towns?
Mr McCarthy: The position, as has been stated for some time, is that we hope to have up to ten eco-towns. That is the current position we are in.
Q23 Anne Main: What about the five eco-towns by 2016 and ten by 2020? Do you think you are still on target for that?
Mr McCarthy: At this stage the indications are that five could be significantly in construction with significant homes built by that date and up to ten in total by 2020, but we need to go through this carefully.
Q24 Anne Main: Why was the maximum number reduced down from 20,000 to 15,000?
Mr McCarthy: I cannot answer that in detail. I can write to you to clarify that. The target is roughly 5,000 to 15,000 and that is our stated position.
Q25 Anne Main: Apparently in the progress report of the Department in July the maximum number of homes was reduced.
Mr McCarthy: As far as I recall, but I will be happy to clarify this, that reflects the scale of indications from individual participants. It is purely a reflection of what people are saying to us, but I am happy to clarify that.
Q26 Anne Main: People are saying they would like smaller eco-towns?
Mr McCarthy: I believe the range we have is from 5,000 to 15,000.
Q27 Chair: It would be good if you could clarify that point.
Mr McCarthy: Of course.

Comment by Terry Knott
Chairman CAFE:
From the above it will be pretty evident that a senior civil servant is effectively ignoring a vast amount of emails, letters and petitions from our local communities - and therefore could be said to be misleading Parliament.