Leeds City Council has been required to identify potential development land by the Tory LibDem Coalition Government.
Residents are worried and angry at the loss of green spaces.
As we’ve said before, the planning exercise is just that – an exercise, it’s not a plan. Residents are right to get involved in it.
But they also need to understand the context – and why these things are happening.
This forced planning exercise should waken people to the situation the Coalition’s changes to planning laws and regulations are producing.
– a situation which the Labour Party and environmental campaigners like the Campaign to Protect Rural England foresaw when the Tory LibDem Coalition’s new planning framework was being pushed through parliament.
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, the Labour shadow minister, made it clear at the time – “the framework should be amended so that it reinstates a requirement that previously-developed brown field sites are developed ahead of green field areas.”
Even a right wing commentator like Melanie Phillips joined the critics, pointing out that the Tories and LibDems were preparing changes which would result in wholeale building on green belt land.
There was – and is – plenty of brownfield land for development. The Campaign to Protect Rural England claimed in 2011 that there was enough “brown field land” to build 1.5million new homes. This was enough for six years’ supply of housing at the rates the Government wanted new homes to be built, or a 10-year supply if building continued at 2009 rates. Even in the South East, where demand was highest, a quarter of suitable brown field sites were unused.
The results of the new planning regulations are now becoming increasingly clear. CPRE Chief Executive Shaun Spiers:
‘CPRE has closely observed how the NPPF(New Planning Framework) is being implemented on the ground and what we have seen is deeply disturbing. Despite the rhetoric of localism, it now seems that local communities are increasingly powerless to prevent damaging development even in the most sensitive locations. Our evidence suggests that the NPPF is being used to impose unnecessary greenfield developments in the teeth of local opposition. Brownfield sites are being overlooked in favour of building on green fields that are easier for developers. At the same time, developers are providing less and less affordable housing to meet local needs.’
[CPRE’s full report here.]
So you may want to get angry – but you also need to get wise. The threats to the green belt come not from Leeds Labour Council, but from changes to planning laws brought in by the Tory/LibDem Coalition.
And it’s completely hypocritical of Greg Mulholland to be wringing his hands about the developers ‘exploiting the planning framework’ to build expensive housing on greenfield land.
It was his government which brought in the planning framework. It was Labour that opposed it.
Let’s put the blame squarely where it belongs.