You can read Lucy's speech from the TCPA 'New Towns' conference, in full, below:
I'm Lucy Allan, the MP for Telford - a unique and rapidly growing new town set the heart of rural Shropshire, 27 miles west of Birmingham.
It’s a pleasure to take part at this important conference, which is being held at this time …..
….. when we are celebrating the coming of age of our existing new towns,
….. when we see Government committing to the new towns of the future to help solve the housing crisis of the day – in the same way that post war, we looked to the first wave of new towns for national renewal, hope and optimism.
…. and when Telford and Warrington are celebrating their 50th anniversaries; Milton Keynes and Peterborough celebrated their 50th last year and Harlow, Crawley and Stevenage recently celebrated 70th years.
What better time to be looking ahead and setting out a new vision for the long term, and calling for a cross departmental plan within Government to maximise the opportunities and tackle the challenges new towns face.
It is this need for a long term sustainable vision which has brought together MPs representing new towns up and down the country cross party to create an APPG to promote the needs and concerns of New Towns.
We wanted to be sure that our existing new towns are not forgotten about or left behind in a rush to embrace new new towns and to ensure we had a platform and a joined up voice in parliament, but also to share the lessons of our New Town experience and avoid recreating the wheel.
We are delighted to be working so closely with the TCPA, tapping in to their expertise and our group was formally launched in Parliament last month by Sajid Javid the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
This group gives new towns a voice in parliament and an opportunity to shape and influence Government policy in this important area.
The New Town dream is about building a better life and spreading that opportunity across the country.
New Towns symbolise drive, energy and optimism of those choosing to go in search of a better job, a better home a better future for them and their family.
Born in the 1950 and 60’s out of a post war determination to renew and rebuild, new towns were always about communities, a better quality of life, they were never just about housing – its place making for the common good – planned, self-sustaining communities, spreading opportunity and delivering social justice.
Telford, like so many other new towns, embodies that spirit of hope and optimism.
In Telford we experienced real resistance during the town’s creation.
Rural Shropshire, its MPs and Local Authority feared Telford would cause overwhelming and untold misery to the local area, ……. that it would be a blight upon the landscape and a financial burden on the Shropshire taxpayer, by way of demand for public services, a brain drain, a centre of gravity.
But, I am delighted to say that today we have proved our doubters wrong.
Whilst there do remain sensitivities, quite particularly when I call for fast trains to Birmingham, or more investment for our hospital in Telford, through fears that maybe the surrounding rural hinterland may be short changed if Telford gains. Telford today is indeed the centre of gravity of Shropshire, it is the beating heart – delivering new jobs, quality affordable housing and quality of life for its residents – we make a significant contribution the West Midlands economy and as Telford’s success benefits Shropshire as a whole we are breaking down the barriers of lingering resentment to our existence.
Given the many challenges we have overcome along the way, we are an outstanding example of what an ambitious New Town can be.
To sustain that success, we need to adapt for the future – and now is the moment to ensure that we plan for the long term, tackling challenges head on that might otherwise hold us back: housing, skills, health and regeneration are all issues that we must grapple with and plan for the long-term to secure our future.
I am the first to sing the praises of all New Town’s, and in particular the praises of my own, it is important we recognise and seek to address the issues that hold back our new towns, not only so that existing new towns can move forward, but also so that the new towns of the future can benefit from our experience.
Our infrastructure is aging all at once so we face regeneration challenges, by our nature we are isolated from big cities so improvements to our connectivity are vital, and we have areas of significant deprivation.
We share the problem of vast swathes of decaying housing estates, mostly in the private rental sector, creating serious challenges on how to renew and whether they will be fit for purpose in 5 years never mind 50.
Our All Party Group will be holding a series of roundtable sessions in parliament and I hope that as many of you as possible will attend these sessions and contribute to the debate and play your part in influencing policy.
Today, as we did 50/70 years ago, we look to new towns to solve the significant unmet housing demand we are experiencing.
There are important lessons for the next generation of new towns.
So that is why the APPG, in our first year of operation, have planned 3 sessions which will specifically focus on housing, skills and health, which will examine the issues and propose solutions.
I will touch briefly on each issue in turn.
As our new towns come of age, we have to look at how we deal with decaying housing estates, often built with poor materials that have not stood the test of time and are sometimes not fit for occupation. The failure to plan for the long term has caused some of those difficulties.
These estates which saw rapid development in the 1960s and 1970s, with the creation of suburbs, such as Brookside and Woodside were poorly designed and constructed.
We all have decaying housing estates in all our New Towns, which were built 50 years ago. Whole estates are now in need of renewal, because they have been left behind. Every time I go to one of those estates in Telford, I ask where they will be in 10 years’ time, never mind 70 years’ time, and where the plan is to make these homes fit for the next generation.
Often whole estates are in need of renewal and regeneration.
Then there is the problem with part-finished new build estates, where home owners pay fees to management companies that do not discharge their obligations. When people move to a New Town, they buy a dream and it is the responsibility of developers and local government to work together to help deliver that dream.
We need to create sustainable communities and recognise the significance of local decision-making and long-term stewardship. We cannot let the new builds of today fade with neglect in 50 years’ time in the way of Brookside and Sutton Hill in Telford.
And it is positive to see Government working on this area and is recognising this, and, within the scope of its future development plans, will not only be supporting legislation to drive up standards across the sector, but plans to decentralise planning, too.
Turning to health...
Health and Well being
Many new towns like mine have poorer health outcomes than the surrounding areas and significant health inequalities.
Quality of life is a key part to a successful new town and good health and wellbeing is a vital part of that.
NHS England has called on developers to design in health and put healthy living at the heart of future home building.
Our speakers will focus on a healthy environment on public health, self-care, prevention and its importance.
And our third round table is a discussion around skills, innovation and enterprise.
Telford like many new towns has been historically reliant on lower paid, lower skilled jobs. These jobs are being lost through automation and globalisation and we are having to make the transition to the new world of work.
We need to invest in the skilled training which is so valued by our local employers, if we are to enable the work force to participate in the jobs of the future.
Government’s review of post 18 education and particularly technical skills training is not doing enough to prepare people for the world of work and this is essential to attract new jobs as we have done successfully in Telford through partnerships such as the HCA land deal e.g. Magna.
There is much to learn from the post war New Towns - about place making and communities, jobs and skills, the importance of connectivity and green spaces, and about the need for long term stewardship. Creating an identity of which we are proud and an environment where people belong. I hope that our round table sessions will enable us to do just that.
I want to make sure that as Government focuses on new towns of the future that we also continue to improve our existing new towns, not overlook them in the rush to build bigger and better. We are seeing many New Towns successfully continuing to improve lives, with Bracknell making intelligent use of their existing assets and making a virtue of the need for regeneration as a means to provide investors and developers with opportunity.
In Crawley, they are introducing a broad mix of retail opportunities and development, by removing zoning restrictions and inner ring roads.
And, in my constituency, of Telford, where high quality and better design is informing the development of new housing stock, such as at Lightmoor Village. A development that, fittingly, is being driven by a partnership between Homes England and Bournville Trust.
And it is these partnerships, between central and local government, and between local government and the private sector, that provide a base for opportunity to yield real results.
We need to continue to regenerate existing New Towns and drive forward the delivery of new ones, through initiatives such as Land Deals.
The key thing with these new collaborative projects, is that they are determined locally, by those who know the area best.
This maintains the principle of New Towns with its emphasis on self-sufficiency, and community-focused development.
So, there is a real opportunity and platform for us, as an APPG, to help to shape the Government’s future agenda. We will continue to input our experiences of our New Town stories into the new wave of New Towns. I am confident that they will retain that overwhelming sense of ambition, community, and opportunity.
With your support and the engagement of politicians, policy makers, industry experts and business, all of our New Towns past, present and future – will have the opportunity to realise their potential.
|Final TCPA Speech - February 2018.doc||47 KB|