This is a guest post from the Town and Country Planning Association, one of our grant-holders, celebrating the vote in the House of Lords in favour of the Healthy Homes amendments. You can see the original article, featuring clips from the debate, here.
In a stunning success for the Healthy Homes Campaign, peers have voted to support the Healthy Homes amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. The amendments set out a new regulatory framework for housing, by ensuring that all new homes support the health of their residents.
The evening of Monday 4 September saw the House of Lords endorse Lord Crisp’s proposed amendments, which were also sponsored by Lord Young of Cookham (Conservative), Lord Blunkett (Labour) and Lord Stunell (Liberal Democrats).
During the debate, Lord Crisp emphasised why a mandatory framework is so clearly needed, pointing to how current policies are failing to ensure healthy and secure homes for individuals and families:
There is opportunity here: if people have a secure home, a secure base from which to operate, space for children to do their homework, where they are not spending all their time worrying about repairs and everything else. This is about life chances. It is not just about housing affecting health and well-being; it affects people’s life chances in the long term.
Lord Nigel Crisp
Emphasising that the Heathy Homes amendment was not seeking to duplicate policy, Lord Crisp said the aim of the amendment is to create legislative clarity and improve delivery:
We are not writing the policy; we are making sure it is delivered everywhere. We set out those principles to be followed which need to be enshrined in law; we have deliberately left the Secretary of State with space to define the standards, which will obviously change over time…
Lord Nigel Crisp
All peers in the debate recognised the strong links between the quality of homes and people’s health and wellbeing. In particular, how it is those living more deprived areas who are more likely to experience poor conditions. As Baroness Hayman of Ullock pointed out:
Medical evidence surrounding the relationship between the condition of someone’s home and their life chances has become even stronger. We have heard evidence of the shockingly poor standards even of some new homes that are being created through our deregulated planning system. The amendments could prevent the development of poor-quality housing, which continues to undermine people’s health and well-being.”
Baroness Hayman of Ullock
Amongst the many peers indicating their support for the amendment, Lord Stunell argued:
A healthy home is a gateway to life; it is a prerequisite of educational attainment as well as gainful employment. It has to be at the core of any genuine attempt to level up.
In responding on behalf of the Government, Earl Howe acknowledged the importance of “healthy living environments” and said the government had been listening. He pointed to the extension of the Decent Homes Standard to cover the private rental sector as well as social housing, as well as the Future Homes Standard, which aims to reduce CO2 emissions from new homes to 75% less than 2013 standards. Lord Crisp replied that whilst the increased scope of the Decent Homes Standard was welcomed, the change would not cover poor quality homes produced through Permitted Development conversions.
The TCPA has also repeatedly stated that whilst the Decent Homes Standards address the worst home hazards they do not actively promote health, nor do they address all the Healthy Homes principles covered in the amendment – such as the principles on air pollution; climate resilience; accessibility and adaptability; access to local amenities, transport and nature.
The Healthy Homes Campaign will now focus with renewed momentum on winning the argument for healthy, secure and decent homes both within and outside of parliament. For more information on the campaign, or to get involved, please contact Rosalie.Callway@tcpa.org.uk.