We are working with the Lancashire local enterprise partnership and Pendle council to support development of the iconic Brierfield mill site. We have provided £2.5 million to help bring over 600 empty properties back into use in Pendle. Brownfield sites in the Burnley-Pendle corridor have also been shortlisted for housing zone status.
I welcome the news that east Lancashire has been shortlisted as a possible housing brownfield zone. However, more needs to be done to unlock previously developed sites and take pressure off greenfield areas like the Rough and the Meadows in Colne, which are currently subject to planning applications. What more reassurance can the Minister give me that the Government will support councils like Pendle to prioritise brownfield?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right and he has spoken to me extensively about the excellent work going on in Pendle to make sure that brownfield sites are being developed, and I am pleased that that is part of the housing zone programme. We are in the process of encouraging further development on brownfield land. We want to develop 200,000 new homes by 2020 on brownfield land, and just last week we launched a £4.4 million incentive fund to support the preparation of local development orders on brownfield sites.
Absolutely, Mr Speaker. Last year the planning Minister told me that green-belt protection throughout the ancient county of Lancashire, which incorporates my constituency as well as Pendle, meant that development would not be permitted unless there was extensive consultation with the local population through an amendment to the development plan, and only then in exceptional circumstances. What would the Minister’s view be of a local authority that did not consult extensively with the local community and then approved a development in the green belt, as Liberal Democrat-controlled Stockport council has now done?
I am sure, Mr Speaker, that you will excuse me for saying “Nicely done” to the hon. Gentleman for keeping that question in order.
The hon. Gentleman is right: rearranging, reorganising or relooking at green belt within a local plan needs to be done in full consultation with people. The local authority needs to go through that, and it has to go through an independent examination with an inspector, but, obviously, with regard to individual planning applications, ultimately we believe in localism. I believe it is right for local people, through their local authorities, to have that power, through democracy, to make local decisions. It is very much a matter for the local authority.