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Green Belt

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 27 October 2009

14. What steps the Government are taking to protect green belt land from development; and if he will make a statement. (295534)

The Government’s policy is expressed in “Planning Policy Guidance 2: Green belts”, which was issued in 1995. It has served the country well, and the Government have reaffirmed that there are no plans to change green belt policy.

There is a presumption against inappropriate development on green belt land. Such development should not be approved except when any harm to the green belt would be clearly outweighed by other considerations, and when there are very special circumstances to justify development. Green belt boundaries can be changed only in exceptional circumstances, through the development plan process, which must involve robust public consultation and independent scrutiny.

I am sure that, like me, the Minister welcomes the display of people power which overwhelmingly rejected a ludicrous proposal to build 18,000 homes on greenfield land south of Northampton without any real thought being given to infrastructure or, indeed, to job growth. Will he now tell us when he will scrap the quango which the Government set up five years ago, and restore planning powers to local councils?

It is a great shame that the Opposition take every possible opportunity to argue against proposals for housing, growth, strengthening the economy and taking Britain out of recession. They ought to be using this Question Time to explain why the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) said that she would revoke the regional spatial strategies, why she urged Conservative town halls—even before the passing of primary legislation—

Order. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but what we need is a description of the Government’s policy, not that of the Opposition.