Given the elections on May 4, there was a key focus on planning for the region’s MPs this month, with the topic underlying much of the debate in the house as well as in local constituencies. DevComms’ senior account manager for the South East Emily Taylor reports.

Ben Everitt MP (Cons, Milton Keynes North), spoke in the house this month on social housing and incentives to build, explaining that social housing delivery is much below demand and Government targets. In the debate, he suggested that permitted development was used in order to make it easier for council housing associations and organisations to build.

This comes after figures show that just 59,000 new affordable homes were delivered in 2021-2022, much below the 145,000 required to meet current demand.

On a similar note, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP (Slough) spoke in the house on the topic of affordable housing and the under provision in the local area, prompting debate on how to provide more housing and reduce wait times without having to move people outside of their borough.

In Buckinghamshire, rail expansion was another key focus point; with Greg Smith MP (Cons) chairing the latest East West Rail meeting for residents in Winslow whose properties back onto the new railway.

Moving towards the Local Elections which took place this week, the controversial East West Rail proposals were amongst the key debate points for local residents and councillors.

Similarly, Victoria Prentis MP (Cons, Banbury) updated constituents on her objections for the controversial plans for the Oxfordshire Strategic Rail Freight Interchange project, which has been paused while developers take a review of the scheme.

She exclaimed “The proposals have caused significant concern locally since they were announced. I always felt that this was not the right location for such a scheme. I therefore welcome the developers’ admission that fundamental issues exist with the project.”

In Oxfordshire, MP for Wantage, David Johnston, attended the multi-award-winning development, Springfield Meadows, alongside housing secretary Michael Gove, to highlight the benefits of designing greener neighbourhoods. This comes as part of Gove’s proposals to modernise the planning system.

Mr Gove said: “We want beautiful, well-designed, greener neighbourhoods and the community I’ve seen in Springfield Meadows is something we wish to replicate right across the country. By modernising the planning system, our reforms will create more places people are proud to call home.”

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