Tonight we are voting on the Housing and Planning Bill.
As you can imagine this has been a source of considerable interest and debate in West Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly ever since it was announced (in April) that the intention was to extend right to buy to include housing associations.
The bill puts into legislation the Government’s commitment to provide starter homes for sale at a discount to people under 40.
The bill tackles the problem of rogue landlords and letting agents and makes it easier to recover abandoned buildings.
The most controversial part of this bill is the ‘Right to Buy’ element. I personally have raised concerns about the impact of the proposed extension to right to buy and have met with the Secretary of State, the Housing Minister and Social Landlords. I raised concerns about forcing landlords to sell homes that would be difficult to replace.
The Isles of Scilly is a classic example of this with expensive freight costs and limited land supply. There are other parts of West Cornwall where replacing homes would be very difficult to achieve. I am in complete support of the principle to encourage people to aspire to own a home but I am pleased that compromise has been reached. If the bill passes there will be a voluntary code for right to buy which has been supported by 323 social landlords voting in favour and 37 against. This code recognises the problems some areas have in replacing existing stock.
Households will be given a portable discount to use elsewhere if they choose.
The bill provides additional help for communities to create neighbourhood plans and put greater emphasis on developing brownfield sites.
This is a summary of a 90 page document.