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Brownfield Land

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 6 June 2006

The brownfield definition has not changed for 20 years. We have not proposed any changes in the new draft planning guidance, but we are considering the responses to the consultation on draft planning policy statement 3 on planning for housing.

In the past few years in areas like mine, Solihull, lovely old houses have been knocked down. Because of the planning rules, blocks of flats and other unsuitable properties can then be built on people’s back gardens. Conservative Members and I have tabled early-day motions on the subject and I have tabled a ten-minute Bill. Will the Minister please urgently consider the implications of this development, which is ruining our leafy suburbs in England?

As I said, we are considering the responses to the consultation. The hon. Lady should raise the matter with her local council if she thinks inappropriate planning permissions are being granted. Local authorities have considerable powers to resist inappropriate development. They have powers to resist on the basis of design, and they can consider a wide range of issues if they think the development is inappropriate. We think it is right to promote new development on brownfield land. Such development has increased from 57 per cent. in 1997 to 72 per cent. now. That is important because it allows us to build more homes for the next generation, which we desperately need, while also protecting greenfield land and green belt land so that we can safeguard the countryside for the next generation.

May I invite the Minister to amplify her reference to draft planning guidance 3, and what she said in reply to the hon. Member for Solihull (Lorely Burt), by stating that the Government presume and intend that in the Thames Gateway there will be building on derelict or brownfield land, not on green belt land? The scaremongering by the Conservative party in and around Essex to the effect that there will be wholesale development and building on the green belt is false and unnecessary—

The shrill voice from the Conservatives is the reason why I am inviting the Minister to set the record straight by saying that the Government are proud of the green belt that they created, that they intend to protect it, and that there will be building on land that requires it—brownfield and derelict land.

My hon. Friend is right. The opportunity in the Thames Gateway is not only to regenerate an area that has suffered significant deprivation over a long period and to bring new jobs to the area, but to build on brownfield land—derelict industrial land—to provide new homes for the next generation. Conservative Members need to face up to what may for them be a difficult truth—that their party’s policy is now apparently to support the building of new homes for the next generation. They also have to face up to where those homes are going to be built. They do not want them on the green belt, they do not want them on brownfield land, they do not want them anywhere in the south—in fact, it is not clear that they want them anywhere. We need new homes for the next generation, and this Government are committed to delivering them.