Mixed Answers From Ministers

I recently posed two Commons questions to ministers from the Department for Communities and Local Government writes Peter Luff MP.
My questions received mixed answers from the ministers - let’s start with the bad news.

The New Homes Bonus is a grant to local authorities to provide incentives for local communities to accept new housing developments. Since its introduction, Wychavon District Council has received £1.2 million in New Homes Bonus – and has been praised for making good use of the money. However, the Government’s decision to include the Bonus (which is supposed to be extra money) in a local authority’s overall spending power is hiding Wychavon’s reduction in funding of £2.2 million over the same period.

So money from the Bonus which should be being spent on community developments may now have to be spent funding frontline services provided by the council.

I don’t think the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, quite realises the impact that this change could have on the budget of Wychavon and the services it can provide. But, I have not given up hope!

There was better news from the planning minister, Nick Boles.

He replied saying that planning permissions that have been granted and are still viable will count towards any local authority’s five-year housing supply. This is great news for Wychavon District Council who have granted a record number of planning applications for housing developments in recent years. Because, bizarrely, these permissions weren’t counting towards the required five-year land supply, Wychavon was being forced by the government to approve virtually all applications to build houses – now their task should get easier.

Planning issues continue to cause a lot of concern around Droitwich. I will continue to push ministers on behalf of local people and Wychavon District Council to make sure we can control where our new housing goes.


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