One of the biggest challenges facing the country, is a lack of affordable housing. It ought to be an achievable dream for anyone to be able to work hard, save up and buy their own home. For far too many people this dream is unattainable.
Even in our town, where house building is such a feature of our everyday life, the relationship between average incomes and average house prices is making it increasingly difficult for people to achieve what was once an ordinary expectation.
An important part of the Government’s agenda for this Parliament is legislation to tackle the housing crisis. Key to this is encouraging Housing Associations and Councils to build more affordable homes.
Building new homes brings its own challenges for any area, as we know from our experience in Telford. Residents in areas such as Lightmoor and Lawley have had to put up with living on a building sites, sometimes years after moving in, with dust, noise, unfinished roads, plant and machinery and trucks creating disruption and noise.
Last week I had the chance to see an innovative solution to this problem. Telford’s first factory built modular homes were unveiled in Trench by the Wrekin Housing Trust. These homes come ready made, delivered to site complete with plumbing and electrics. They look and feel just like any other new home and have the same valuation, but are much quicker and cheaper to build. There is no doubt that modular homes are the future and I hope that Telford will continue to play its part in showcasing their benefits.
In Parliament I have set up an All Party Parliamentary Group for New Towns. Last week saw our first meeting. The group will be a strong voice to lobby Government to ensure the needs of the new towns are front and centre. The group is supported by MPs who represent new towns, such as Milton Keynes and Harlow and by members of the House of Lords who have expertise in housing and planning. The group will focus on regeneration of existing new towns, and meeting infrastructure challenges as new towns grow.
Given the Government’s commitment to tackling the housing crisis, this group will have an important role to play in influencing policy and helping Government find the solutions. It is also a great opportunity to give Telford and our needs and concerns a strong profile in Parliament.