Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260-264)



Mrs Dunwoody

  260. Surely what you need to do is to win it with the Government because, as Prince Charles has demonstrated, the only way in which this works is when you do it first. You build mixed use, then people move in. If you get a prestige product, it will work; if you do not get a prestige product it will not work. But it is not an argument which can be had in the abstract.
  (Mr Ben Jackson) I think there needs to be public support, but, yes, I agree. There are examples where developments of this kind can be shown to work clearly to win those arguments. The problem is, obviously, there are those—and we are not trying to duck that reality—who would block any kind of development if it is in their backyard. In that case I think we do need clear political leadership at a national and local level to say, "Look, where are the nurses for our hospitals going to come from? Where are those families that are living in bed and breakfast going to live?" If everyone says not in my backyard then of course we do not have that. I think there needs to be a public debate; I think there needs to be demonstration to show that it can work and that can be done through collaboration between Government and housing associations and other players.

Mr Cummings

  261. Or do you remove some of the democratic processes that exist at the present time? You cannot have it two ways. I do not know of anyone in the various cases I have read over a number of years where people involved in NIMBYISM has ever acquiesced quietly to development.
  (Mr Alastair Jackson) At the moment the public does not see the affordable housing provided.

  262. We understand that. What are you suggesting we can do to get over this.
  (Mr Alastair Jackson) To show, with much greater transparency, that as part of these new housing developments you are getting affordable housing. It is affordable housing for rent going to local people. I think those arguments need to be run through political leadership at local and national level to say that this is something that housing development is delivering to communities. It is not just about whoever can afford to pay the most to buy whatever is being built there. It is also about saying that we have secured—and we can demonstrate that we have secured—this level of affordable housing out of new developments. That needs to be celebrated much more and given much more transparency in the planning system.

  263. Do you consider the proposals put forward in the Government's planning green paper would serve to reduce NIMBYISM?
  (Mr Alastair Jackson) I think to reflect what I have just said, the Government's planning green paper is saying much more local involvement in plans and in particular planning of strategic sites and important sites at a local level. I think that is to be welcomed. I think it is also to be welcomed that they are saying that the planning gain system should be much more transparent so it is clear what is coming from the developer, it is clear what that is producing. A register of such contributions and a register which includes affordable housing, that will help in order to demonstrate to the public that it is not just about the burden of extra construction in their area; it is actually about meeting a community need and its about meeting that local community need.


  264. This question of the community need, housing misery, if you look back over the last 30 years, how do we compare now with the last 30 years? Is housing misery as great now as it ever was? Or has it gone up or down?
  (Mr Alastair Jackson) I think if you go and ask that of somebody spending a year and a half in temporary accommodation then we still have a huge amount of misery at the moment. If you ask particularly about people in bed and breakfast accommodation, people overcrowded in council accommodation and being told by the council that it might take 70 years for them to move into something that is big enough for them, I think we still have a very significant level of misery of affordable housing lack, of people's lives not being able to be lived to their full extent because of their inability to fend for themselves on the housing market and the lack of Government policy that actually recognises that inability and does something about it.

  Chairman: Thank you for your evidence. Could we have the next set of witnesses, please.

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