In December 2016, Heidi Allen, MP for South Cambridgeshire tabled an amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill. The amendment required local planning authorities to “consider” the needs of elderly and disabled people when identifying strategic priorities for the development and use of their land. During debate in the House of Commons, the Housing Minister Gavin Barwell, agreed to work with Mrs Allen to secure this amendment at its next stage in the House of Lords.
Since December, Mrs Allen has met with the Minister, Peers and charities repeatedly to ensure that the new amendment reflected her original intention. After careful consideration, Lord Bourne tabled an amendment calling on the Secretary of State to produce guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework which would require local authorities’ planning documents to consider the needs of elderly and disabled people in their communities.
Mrs Allen was delighted to see her ambitions embedded fully in legislation as the House of Commons voted unanimously today to accept the amendment. It will receive Royal Assent later this week. Speaking in support of this amendment, the Housing Minister thanked Mrs Allen for bringing this important issue to the House. He remarked that it helped the Government achieve their wider policy aims by easing pressure on the social care sector and also supporting disability employment through ensuring people have the opportunity to live independently.
As this amendment progressed through the House of Lords, not only did it continue to receive support from charities such as Age UK, Habinteg and Papworth Trust, it also received wide cross party support, both in the House of Lords and the Commons.
Commenting on this, Heidi said:
“I am absolutely delighted my amendment has now passed into law and would like to extend my personal thanks to the Housing Minister for his tireless work in achieving this. I have been a passionate advocate of ensuring equality for disabled people, so this amendment represents a huge step forward. Improving the accessibility of housing is of critical importance not just for the disabled community but also our ageing population. I am proud of what we have achieved together and I look forward to working further with the Minister to ensure the guidance produced in the National Planning Policy Framework continues to reflect the spirit of our ambitions.”