Bishop of St Albans welcomes Government White Paper on housing; asks about rural homes

stalbans190117On 7th February 2017, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth made a statement to the House of Lords on the publication of the Government’s new White Paper on housing. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, responded, welcoming the report and asking about the Government’s plans to develop rural housing.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans My Lords, on these Benches we are acutely aware of the huge crisis in housing. We hear stories about this from all around the country and we share some of the concerns that have been raised from the Benches opposite. There are a number of things which we welcome hugely. Examples are the new powers for local authorities to prevent land banking, measures to encourage local authorities to work together over larger areas, and new requirements for local authorities to undertake a more thorough assessment of housing needs.

I will focus on one area in which I have a particular interest. Housing is a key issue for rural sustainability. What steps will Her Majesty’s Government be taking, first to encourage the development of new homes in rural areas and, secondly, to ensure that any new housing developments are designed to meet the needs of local people and families, rather than continuing the worrying trend of large, expensive rural homes that are simply not meeting real local needs?