responds to housing concerns during visit to Highbridge
government's housing minister spoke out about local infrastructure
concerns during a visit to Highbridge this week where he saw several
of the town's multi-million pound housing developments.
Lewis, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, met Burnham
and Highbridge's MP James Heappey and local councillors last Thursday
to local concerns about inadequate infrastructure - roads, schools
and medical facilities - to support new homes, he said: "It's
an important issue and we are working across government on this.
I am working with colleagues at the Department of Transport and
with MPs like James Heappey to lobby the Chancellor to ensure
we get the right infrastructure coming in, and ensure the Department
of Education has money to build schools and local authorities
have '106 agreements' in place to ensure infrastructure is built
into housing plans."
added: "Planning decisions have to be made in line with national
policies and there's a national policy framework which makes it
very clear to local authorities when developing their plans that
they have to be sustainable. That includes infrastructure - whether
that's roads, schools, doctors surgeries or whatever is needed
locally. The local authorities have to plan that."
Filmer, Sedgemoor's planning committee Chairman, said: "We
need to reflect the needs and desires of the local community,
which nationally is very difficult to do. If we get that responsibility
we will try to deliver the local needs."
Minister was also asked about a lack of affordable homes in the
Burnham area. He responded: "We have the biggest building
programme since the 1970s underway and £20billion of spending
is going into shared ownership across the UK which gets people
into homes at a much lower deposit, sometimes as low as £1,400.
We are promoting rent to buy and new products for starters and
first time buyers. We
need to build more homes - the greater supply we have, the geater
affordability there will be."
was shown the site of the former Highbridge Hotel, which is currently
being redeveloped by the YMCA with the assistance of central government
he also visited the Knightstone development at the former Highbridge
Cattle Market site, saying that he was impressed at the work underway
to deliver new homes in the town.
Brandon Lewis, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning,
in Highbridge for his special visit this week (photos Mike Lang)