Examination of Witnesses (Questions 660-679)|
KEEBLE, MP AND
WEDNESDAY 12 DECEMBER 2001
660. About what asylum seekers? Shall we just
put "pause" in the record?
(Ms Keeble) Obviously we do not have a particular
responsibility for housing asylum seekers.
661. Would you like to give us a note on this
because I am conscious of the time?
(Ms Keeble) Okay. Can I just say one thing about the
work of the Home Office, we do work closely with the Home Office
on a whole range of different areas, in particular in the neighbourhood
and street warden schemes, there is very close working there and
in the neighbourhood renewal areas as well.
662. How does the government monitor how well
regional housing policies, government offices and Regional Development
Agencies work together on housing issues?
(Ms Keeble) We obviously monitor the way in which
the regional strategies are implemented and also how the regional
plans come forward for housing.
663. Do you look at how those bodies work together?
(Ms Keeble) In what sense?
664. Work together in relation to housing issues?
(Ms Keeble) We certainly look at the way in which
the different agencies cooperate in preparing the strategies for
housing. We also monitor the work that local housing authorities
do and also we obviously, through the Housing Corporation, we
look at what the housing associations do as well.
665. What is the role of Regional Development
Agencies in housing issues?
(Ms Keeble) The Regional Development Agencies responsibility
would really be through their role in looking at regeneration
and they would also have to take into account the housing market
as part of their assessment of the overall economic reforms of
an area, the housing market as part of the local economy.
666. Is the government looking at how Regional
Development Agencies are linked with housing authorities in making
(Ms Keeble) We would expect them to work together
in putting together the regional plans, yes.
667. Do you monitor them?
(Ms Keeble) I am not sure about monitoring arrangements
I can certainly give you a note on that.
668. Some of us believe that the changes to
PPG3 were very important and a welcome step. We have been a bit
disappointed that information we received from the RICS and the
Empty Homes Agency on our trip to the northwest where we were
told that in many cases it was not being implemented, there was
a lot land available, brown field sites in some authorities crying
out for redevelopment but housing authorities next door or even
the same authority were approving planning permission in green
field areas. What is your view about this? What do you think has
(Ms Keeble) There is obviously some outstanding planning
consents and we do not have plans to revoke those, there is always
going to be a lag time in the policy coming into effect. I would
question whether the assessment that it is not working is based
on recent decisions or whether it is the carrying forward of consents
that were given before the PPG3 was actually passed. In terms
of building it it is still quite a new PPG.
669. Are you monitoring the situation about
new permissions being given which might appear to be contrary
to the PPG3?
(Ms Keeble) New permissions, we will be monitoring
them over time, yes.
670. Are you monitoring them now?
(Ms Keeble) We will be monitoring them.
671. Are you monitoring them now?
(Ms Keeble) Yes, I am sure we are.
Mr Betts: Can I follow that up, as well as authorities
not giving new permissions on sites where brown field sites exist
they are also supposed to be revising their housing development
plans and where land that was allocated for housing in the new
PPG3 falls outside the scope of that they should be removing those
applications and chasing the destination of that land. Is that
happening? Are you monitoring that? Can you can tell us how much
lands is being removed for housing allocation as a result?
(Ms Keeble) Yes, it is happening. However, there is
a problem here because whilst the local authorities change their
plans that does not mean that existing planning consents are necessarily
672. I understand that. I am talking about allocations
for the future, where land is zoned for housing under the past
PPG3 it should not be zoned under the current policy therefore
it should be removed as land so designated and that land is owned
for future use?
(Ms Keeble) That has happened in some areas, particularly
ones that I can quote are Halton, Oldham, South Lakeland and Bolton.
It is happening.
673. That leaves an awful loft authorities where
it is not happening. Could you give us a note on how many authorities
have taken steps?
(Ms Keeble) We can certainly do that.
Mr Betts: How much land has been so far removed?
674. Can I just ask you if you are really monitoring.
There has been really quite a disastrous planning appeal decision
in North Cheshire that is going to permit loads of new houses
to be built when there are huge tracks of brown field sites in
the middle of Warrington that could well do with regeneration
and yet this is a very recent decision. What monitoring is going
on? All of the local authorities round Cheshire are very nervous
after that very recent decision.
(Ms Keeble) Yes. It would be quite wrong to comment
on an individual case and obviously planning inspectors also have
to make their decisions on a case by case basis. The Greenfield
Direction means local authorities would have to notify the Secretary
of State if there are housing proposals on larger green field
sites, even where those sites were allocated, the plans, there
is monitoring and report back. I would say that where there is
an individual case that decisions will have been taken I think
in this case by an individual planning inspector.
675. Do you think your government regional offices
are really up to actually predicting how many houses are needed
in a region?
(Ms Keeble) There is obviously quite a long process
before you finally agree on regional allocations, and in some
areas that is still under discussion. I would just say that there
are quite some complications about housing allocations.
676. Take the northwest, it has too many houses,
a very substantial number of houses that cannot be filled and
yet the prediction is that a lot of new ones should be built.
(Ms Keeble) Yes. That particular one has not been
settled yet. I think the reason why is that it is a region that
wants a higher allocation and the reason, as I understand it,
that they want it is because they say whilst they have an oversupply
of housing or what would appear to be an oversupply of housing,
they have the wrong type of housing, and they therefore want a
more diverse range of housing stock, so that is the reasoning
behind that. That particular case is still being looked at.
677. In the Southeast, let us take another example,
I understand that Hastings wanted to use some of the empty homes
to bring them back into use and cross off the number of houses
that the government office wanted provided in that region. Should
Hastings not have been able to use the existing empty homes, are
bringing them back into use to avoid having to build all that
many new homes?
(Ms Keeble) What they have done in the Hastings case,
this is why that is being scrutinised, is that there has been
some double counting of the properties concerned, so that is why
there has been an issue round the Hastings plan.
678. This Committee has been pursuing the question
of gap funding for some time, the new schemes, almost all, are
very much biassed against housing. We were told that in some of
these areas where we renewables should be taking place gap funding
could be quite important. Can you give us any good news on gap
(Ms Keeble) This is obviously tied up with the state
aid discussion as well. There have been careful discussions in
Brussels and there is some progress being made on that, albeit
679. Is it progress on the housing side? I think
it was Chris Brown who gave us evidence that some of the schemes
in Manchester were being vetoed because 75 per cent of the scheme
was housing, and that was not acceptable under the new rules.
(Ms Keeble) I was not aware of that, I have to say.