On Monday the Government published highly controversial plans to allow local government to build hundreds of thousands
morehomes on the green belt. This will potentially affect Nuneaton and North Warwickshire which have extensive greenbelts areas.
Marcus Jones, the MP for Nuneaton is the Parliamentary Under Secretary who deals with local Government. Having campaigned before the General Election against developments in his constituency it is particularly embarrassing for him that as a Minister he will be told to vote for the biggest erosion of planning protections in over 30 years.
The current strict rules on greenfield land only allow building in exceptional circumstances. The new proposal is that councils should “allocate appropriate small-scale sites in the green belt specifically for starter homes”, which are designed for young families”, the government has said. But the changes, are likely to be seized on by developers which have long sought green-belt land. This will inevitably lead to thousands of homes being created on the green belt as part of the governments push to build houses quickly.
The planned changes are the first alterations to the national planning policy framework, the NPPF, which brought in a new bias in favour of development when it was introduced against the wishes of rural campaigners in 2012. Developers were delighted by the NPPF and many developers contributed to the election campaigns of Conservative candidates in marginal constituencies such as Craig Tracey in North Warwickshire, whose Conservative Association has publicly acknowledged receiving over £10,000 from the Richardsons, who are major commercial developers in the West Midlands.
A requirement that land in the green belt, which is lost to builders has to be replaced is not contained in the new changes.
“Both Mr Jones and Mr Tracey claim to oppose developments locally but I predict they will loyally support their government in eroding the green belt to benefit developers. This will be the worst distruction of the safeguards for the greenbelt since the 1980s. It will potentially have a major impact on places like North Warwickshire, Bedworth and Nuneaton. Local Plans, which previously restricted development on the greenbelt, will be able to be challenged and potentially overturned by developers. Developers will be whooping with joy at this Christmas gift from the Conservatives.
“These proposals were slipped out in the quiet run-up to Christmas and without warning, in the hope that people concerned about the greenbelt would not spot them. If Mr Jones and Mr Tracey vote for these proposals we will call them to account at the next general election.”