On 18th March 2020 Baroness Thornhill asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the results of the Housing Delivery Test, published on 13 February.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, asked a follow-up question:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: The Question from the noble Baroness, Lady Thornhill, is pertinent. Last year I set up a commission to look at the building of housing and communities. Simply the delivery of more houses does not create better communities. The mere existence of houses is not in itself a virtue. It comes back to fattening the pig, as the noble Baroness put it so well. What powers will the planned legislation give to local authorities to ensure that affordable housing is delivered? The experience is that, although there may be a commitment to it in the early stages of planning, as the process goes on the number of affordable houses diminishes very severely. There is a lack of imagination over the forms of ownership. If we are to have communities, we must have facilities and the capacity to build those communities together. Does the Minister agree with that, and what are the plans?
The Earl of Courtown: Yes, I agree with the most reverend Primate. Communities are of prime importance. There has been much movement over the last few years in various areas where there has been large-scale development. Communities have been very much at the forefront in how many of these planning development areas have been established. I know in particular about an area in north Swindon. I declare an interest: I was a landscape contractor there. I did a lot of the planting of trees and the general landscaping. There, it was very important that these developments had a community at their centre. The most reverend Primate also commented on what the noble Baroness said—I cannot remember what she said. I apologise; I will write to the most reverend Primate on that issue.