Monday, 29 May 2017

Planning minister stands firm on green belt development

The planning minister stood firm on potential green belt housing developments, despite backbenchers warning him Tories were losing votes on the issue.   

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate yesterday, Nick Boles refused to back down from his position that more development was needed to combat the housing crisis.

This followed comments from a number of back bench MPs, who criticised the government for imposing housing targets in rural areas that will see development on green belt land.

Laurence Robertson, MP for Tewkesbury said: ‘Our policies on planning are losing us many votes in many areas. I am sure that the leaders of my party do not intend that to happen.

But Mr Boles said there are no longer enough suitable brownfield sites to meet the country’s housing need.

He also rejected the argument that the crisis could be solved by bringing empty homes back into occupation or putting pressure on land banking developers.

‘The number of overcrowded families has risen and the amount of space in which young people must grow up has fallen for several decades for a simple reason: our population has grown and we have not built enough houses to keep pace with it,’ he said.

‘Housing need is intense. I accept that [Mr Robertson] does not share my view, but many honourable members do, and there are a lot of statistics to prove it. How are we going to solve the problem?’ 

Defending the targets set for local councils, he added: ‘We don’t say to the NHS provide as many GPs as you can afford right now. We say to the NHS, work out how many GPs are needed. The same is true of housing sites.’

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