Government minister visits new Crawley neighbourhood

From left, Henry Smith and Brandon Lewis
From left, Henry Smith and Brandon Lewis

The Housing Minister has visited Crawley’s newest neighbourhood.

Crawley MP Henry Smith welcomed Brandon Lewis MP to Crawley to see the progress of the Forge Wood development, which will become the town’s 14th neighbourhood.

Mr Smith said: “I’m pleased to welcome the Housing Minister to Crawley to see the new homes which are being built in Forge Wood.

“The development will provide 1,900 homes, and around a quarter of these will be affordable and social housing.

“Having been to Forge Wood a number of times over the last year or so it’s striking to see how the building of this neighbourhood is progressing.

“Last year I was pleased to meet with management of the new Forge Wood Primary School. The school is due to open in September 2016, in specifically-designed temporary accommodation close to the new school site, before transferring to its new home the following year.”

Brandon Lewis MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, added: “We’re determined to keep the country building with a clear ambition to deliver a million homes by 2020 and support hard-working people into home ownership.

“Forge Wood is a prime example of how we are delivering on this by making better use of public sector land to provide many affordable homes and help hundreds of local people realise their dream of owning their own home.”

Crawley Borough Council leader Peter Lamb went to the visit and said it coincided with central government announcements over its housing policy.

Cllr Lamb (Lab, Northgate) said: “Forge Wood was kicked off in 1998 so the idea that this is an example of the Government moving this forward is bizarre.

“[Mr Lewis] his attempt to draw any parallel between Forge Wood and Government policy stands up to no criteria what so ever.”

The visit was the first from a minister from the Department for Communities & Local Government since Mr Smith was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP.

A spokesman for the Crawley MP said: “This comes on the same day the Prime Minister announced a new policy which will see the Government stepping in and directly commissioning new affordable homes in England, including in Chichester, West Sussex.

“The first wave of up to 13,000 homes will start on four sites outside of London in 2016, and up to 40 per cent will be affordable ‘starter’ homes.

“Action like this on such a scale has not been undertaken in three decades, since Baroness Thatcher and Lord Heseltine started the regeneration of the London Docklands.

“The Government has also announced a £1.2 billion starter home fund to prepare brownfield sites for new homes. This is to fast-track the creation of at least 30,000 new starter homes and up to 30,000 market homes on 500 new sites by 2020, which will help deliver the commitment to create 200,000 starter homes over the next five years.”

Cllr Lamb said the average Crawley couple could not afford to buy under the starter home fund.

He said a couple would need a deposit of £21,000 and an annual household income of £58,000, while tHe average income in Crawley was £23,000.

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