On 25th April 2016 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Housing and Planning Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in support of an amendment to the Bill that had been co-sponsored by the Bishop of St Albans. In introducing the amendment, Labour Peer Baroness Royall said:
“This amendment does not in any way seek to undermine the Government’s plans to increase the number of homes built on small sites. We need more homes in rural areas. It merely seeks to ensure that local authorities will still be able to meet the affordable housing needs of their rural communities in ways appropriate to their circumstances.”
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I support this amendment. My diocese covers vast and diverse rural areas. The issue that is constantly raised by those who live there is affordable housing for their children. We too often use the language of protection or preservation when we should be talking about development and creating the future. If we end up with small rural communities without young people in them, which in some cases is what is happening, we will have a problem 20, 30, 40 or 50 years down the line. I support the amendment and trust that we will give due attention to it.
The amendment was subsequently passed by 269 to 185 votes. The Bishop of Leeds joined those voting for the amendment.