You can read my lastest monthly column for the Witney Gazette, here:
Moving house peaks in summertime but for many people, particularly in West Oxfordshire, the cost and availability of suitable housing is a curb on a dream that we all share: that of a place to call your own.
Since becoming your MP, I have been vocal both in West Oxfordshire and in Westminster encouraging the building of houses at affordable, realistic prices to ensure that young people do not have to leave their friends in order to get on the housing ladder.
However, housebuilding must never be at the cost of the character of our towns and villages; nor must it be without the infrastructure needed, particularly in villages where large scale development may in any event be inappropriate. We all know that we are lucky to live in a beautiful 'picture postcard' part of the world, but equally we all realise that we do not live in a postcard: this is a growing area where people live and work and we need to provide housing for our children.
We square the circle of providing affordable housing whilst protecting our rural area by looking for innovative solutions to building and financing homes, thereby creating ways young people can get onto that first rung. I am delighted to work with my Conservative colleagues on West Oxfordshire District Council and wholeheartedly welcome the their new Local Authority Partnership Purchase Scheme (LAPP), allowing individuals to buy a share of their home - with the Council purchasing the rest. This is a major help for those who are able to afford mortgage repayments, but are unable to save for a large deposit. By investing £500,000 in the scheme, West Oxfordshire is really leading the way - nationally.
On that national level, the Government has laid out creative and thoughtful ways to tackle our unsustainable housing market, consulting on ambitious, lasting reform across the whole of the housebuilding process, ensuring that we have the housing that works for us: in the right place, at the right cost, and in harmony with our area. You can read much more about this and my response at robertcourts.co.uk/housing
None of this means that housing should be built at breakneck pace wherever it can be shoehorned in. Speculative development is rarely in the best interests of communities that have to accommodate large numbers of housing without the infrastructure needed. That is why it is essential that West Oxfordshire has its Local Plan in place as soon as possible, enabling local people and their Council to plan ahead to ensure that houses are be built where they are most needed, in keeping with our area, and with the infrastructure required. We must not be obsessed with simply building numbers of houses and must remember that we are not just building houses - we are building homes, and making places.
For those wanting to get in touch (about any issue - not just housing!) please email me at email@example.com, phone my office at 01993 225020 or you are welcome to write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.
Published on 06.09.17 in the Witney Gazette.