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Green Spaces

Volume 526: debated on Monday 4 April 2011

The coalition Government have moved fast to enable communities to protect their green spaces. Three measures stand out. The first is the end to the perverse classification of gardens as brownfield land, which has led to the destructive practice of garden grabbing. The second is the abolition of density targets so that developers have greater freedom to provide homes with gardens. The third is the introduction of neighbourhood plans, which will allow local people to safeguard green spaces and incorporate them in their vision of their community.

Can the Minister therefore explain to me what on earth the Chancellor of the Exchequer was talking about in his Budget speech? One of the most important parts of the speech was on how he would free up the country to developers. Most people in Huddersfield now know that their green spaces—not green belt, but green spaces—are vulnerable to being built on.

Of course they are not. At the moment, the regional strategies place a threat over communities, as the hon. Gentleman knows. He is a great localist, and he and I agree on this. I commend his blog to those on the Opposition Front Bench, who are chuntering away. There is a very persuasive piece on this matter under the title “The party I love is a party of ideals. That’s why I back David Miliband”. It states:

“I’ve always wanted to be in a party rooted in our diverse communities…nourished and reinvigorated by the ideas and aspirations that stem from our grass roots.”

We are giving the grass roots the right to determine the future of their green spaces, something for which I welcome his support.

Rural buffer zones and other planning designations protect areas such as my constituency from the westward expansion of Swindon. Does the Minister agree that, leaving aside the green belt, we have all kinds of ways in which to protect our countryside from excessive building?

My hon. Friend is right that development must be sustainable and must not compromise the ability of future generations to enjoy the environment that we have. The Government’s policy has always been clear in that regard.