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Greg Clark: 'We don't just want more homes, we want better homes'

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Communities secretary echoes the AJ’s More Homes, Better Homes campaign with call to promote quality as well as quantity in housebuilding

Speaking at the annual National House Building Council (NHBC) lunch in Westminster today (26 November), Clark stated that over the next five years the government intended to increase the annual number of new homes to levels not seen ‘for many decades’.

His speech came the day after the chancellor’s spending review pleged to double the annual housing budget to £2 billion per year in order to deliver 400,000 affordable homes by the end of the decade.

Towards the end of his address, Clark added: ‘But this goes beyond numbers. As well as building more homes we must build better homes. Indeed better streets, better neighbourhoods and better towns and cities too.

‘I’m proud that we’ve making progress together on quantity but I also want to work with you to make progress on quality. The quality of our built environment is one of the legacies that we all in this room will leave to future generations.’

Concluding his speech, Clark added that the task of industry and government was to convince ‘the whole country’ that development improved, rather than worsened, places.

However, many in the room were suspicious of the lack of detail in Clark’s speech on quality. Twitter user Richard High responded by tweeting: ‘@GregClarkMP gives speech but doesn’t actually say anything concrete? (no pun intended) Of course not, he’s a politician!’

Earlier in his speech, Clark also spoke of the need to close the ‘housing deficit’ as well as the economic deficit this decade, and said greater involvement from small- and medium-sized builders was vital to achieving this.

He also thanked those in the room for supporting the coalition government’s National Planning Policy Framework, a controversial policy he oversaw but suggested had been at risk of being derailed.

NHBC chair Isabel Hudson told the audience that new home registrations with the NHBC were set to hit 160,000 in 2015, compared with 146,000 the previous year. Given the organisation registers around 80 per cent of new homes, this suggests the UK is on course to hit 200,000 homes a year, which would mean the annual rate had almost doubled in six years, she said.

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