The Government’s new white paper on planning was published today and is out for consultation.
The white paper makes bold promises:
Making more land available for homes in the right places, by maximising the contribution from brownfield and surplus public land, regenerating estates, releasing more small and medium-sized sites, allowing rural communities to grow and making it easier to build new settlements;
Maintaining existing strong protections for the Green Belt, and clarifying that Green Belt boundaries should be amended only in exceptional circumstances when local authorities can demonstrate that they have fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting their identified housing requirements;
But is short on detail as to how these aims will be delivered.
A statement issued by the lobby group All4BetterDevelopment made clear its shortcomings:
"The White Paper fails to recognise communities need to have a real say on where houses go. There are countless towns and villages around the country being swamped with planning applications because their local authority are behind on housing targets. Local authorities are not representing the interests of the people and this White Paper gives them no extra powers to do so. It's no good just saying brownfield should be built on first and then failing to protect greenfield and Green Belt. The proposals on landbanking do not go far enough and is unlikely to make any real difference. If the Government thought it would, local authorities should be allowed to take the landbanked land into account in their 5 year supply. Housing numbers will inevitably change with Brexit. The Government has to halt the process to review the overall housing numbers"
Our once sacrosanct green belt is being eroded under a dash for houses throughout the south east of England. People in South Oxfordshire are asking why green belt protection cannot be provided around Reading. As the map shows, under a scheme dating back to the middle of the last century, green belt in the south east is designed to protect the land beyond London and extends no further west than Maidenhead.
As the Times recently reported, any local politician who questions plans for thousands of houses in the green belt is likely to find himself sacked.
Leo Walters, a former Conservative mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, was removed as chairman of the council’s housing scrutiny panel after expressing concern that the public had not been fully informed about the threat to the green belt.
He said that he had been removed by Simon Dudley, the council’s leader, after “simply handing out facts”. Mr Walters had sent an email to his fellow panel members informing them of a Freedom of Information response from the council revealing that 86 per cent of the land that it was proposing for development was in the green belt.