"I wish to thank my honourable friend, the member for the Isle of Wight for securing this very important and timely debate especially considering the proximity of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework as advised by my honourable friend the member for Leigh.
There are indeed many positives in the white paper, and I commend my right honourable friend the member for Tamworth to committing to a brownfield first agenda for which I and residents of Radcliffe, Ainsworth, Whitefield & Simister will wholeheartedly agree with.
I also support the minister in his aims to modernise the planning system, it is not right that in the 21st century members of the public are finding out about planning applications via notices attached to lamp posts and this white paper seeks to correct that.
However, as with many honourable and right honourable friends whilst there are positives in the report there are also negatives, not only the details of the mutant algorithm for which I will come to shortly. But by also reducing & removing the right of residents to object to applications near them. We cannot be a party and government highlighting the benefits of localism by limiting local decision making abilities, thus de-democratising the planning process.
The greenbelt in Bury especially at Elton Reservoir and Simister in my constituency is said to be the lungs around our urban centres, and they need to be protected & to lose that lung in the middle of Bury would be a tragedy.
The GMSF, purported by labour led councils and greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, means that our greenbelt will be destroyed by make way for housing development. Part of the problem with the GMSF is the outdated and woefully inaccurate local housing need figures based on data from 2014.
This data suggests that Bury as a borough needs to build 601 homes per annum against an average delivery rate of 344. The algorithm as part of the Lichfield report instead suggests 673 homes, a 12% increase with no justification which I cannot in good conscience support.
I, along with many of my colleagues, have been campaigning for the use of appropriate calculations to assess local housing needs, rather than using standardised national figures – as set out by the GMSF. As has been stated by members on both sides of the chamber, what is needed is a truly localised system, at the closest possible level to the residents as possible being the local planning authority, as opposed to a top down algorithm which please no one and delivers no benefits to the areas that we represent.
In recent years there was a very interesting report produced by the LGA I believe which sought to tackle the issues of land banking and I urge my RHF to seek to tackle this particular issue. The option of charging council tax on sites given planning permission will seek to bring forward these land banked sites thus mitigating theses figures even further.
Madam Deputy speak I conclude by saying our Conservative party manifesto committed to protecting and enhancing the greenbelt, and we need to do just that. We need more affordable, better designed housing, and we need to prioritise brownfield sites for development.
The NPPF highlights that only in exceptional circumstances can the Greenbelt be developed on, and Madam Deputy Speaker, lazy planning is not an exceptional circumstance. Our greenbelt should not be up for sale to developers – and all members should get on board to enhance greenbelts protections.
Will this government commit to ensuring that our greenbelt is off limits?"