We want 300,000 new homes every year. That ambition remains undimmed.
But we also want to ensure we do much more than just build homes, we want to enhance existing communities and create new places of which we can all be proud.
There has been entirely understandable resistance to new development in many communities for reasons with which I completely sympathise.
Too many new homes have been ugly, shoddily constructed and of poor quality. Identikit creations plonked down without regard to the shape and character of existing communities.
Many new developments have not been accompanied by the investment in infrastructure required alongside.
So schools, GP surgeries and roads have become increasingly under pressure and existing residents’ quality of life suffers.
Local communities who have worked hard to develop plans for new homes in sympathy with existing development have had their decisions overturned by distant bureaucrats, undermining faith in local democratic decision-making.
Precious environmental protections, such as the green belt, have been eroded, and investment in enhancing parks, restoring wildlife and enhancing natural beauty has been sidelined.
And all of this has meant that instead of creating and enhancing neighbourhoods we have seen dormitories planted in the wrong place in the wrong way.
That is why we are taking a wholly new approach to home building.
We are prioritising beauty. I am an unashamed romantic about our country. Beautiful homes in the right setting – whether elegant terraces in major cities, limestone cottages in the Cotswolds, the slate and sandstone houses of Cumbria or handsome brick villas in the Midlands – lift the heart.
So we are giving local communities the ability to prescribe the design of new homes, and I will use my powers to enforce high aesthetic standards on new developments.
Some of our big housebuilders, used to imposing their wishes on communities, may baulk.
But I will take them on, as I have over the building safety crisis. I will support smaller, more local house builders which have been squeezed out of the market in the past few years.
And I will also ensure that more of the profits they make from getting planning permission are shared with local people to invest in their communities. That will mean cash not just for schools, doctors and roads but investment in green space, urban parks, trees and areas set aside for wildlife.
will also ensure democratic control over new development.
We’ll take on developers who landbank, who secure planning permissions but don’t build those homes because they are gaming both the land market and the planning system.
Communities that make and maintain local plans in keeping with local needs and which respect environmental constraints will be protected from speculative development.
The Government will also ensure not just that existing environmental protections remain, but we will enhance nature – greening the greenbelt with space set aside for nature.
And we will ensure the planning system prioritises neighbourhood wishes and sympathetic development by involving local people more intimately in choices about how their communities grow.
These five principles – Beauty, Infrastructure, Democratic control, Environmental enhancement and Neighbourhood protection – are at the heart of our new approach to housing.
And they can ensure that we have the right homes in the right places where people welcome them. Local people will be partners in making the places they love better and more beautiful, not pawns in a speculative game.