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Brownfield Development

Volume 717: debated on Monday 27 June 2022

2. What progress his Department has made on promoting responsible development on brownfield sites. (900713)

The Government strongly encourage the use of brownfield land and we have introduced new planning measures to make the best use of previously developed land while also boosting the delivery of new homes. A total of £550 million has now been allocated to the seven mayoral combined authorities in the north and midlands for brownfield development, including £120 million announced in the levelling-up White Paper.

In the heart of Keighley we have a unique open area known as the green space, and the town council, local residents and I are all determined to keep it green. However, despite there being many other brownfield options, Labour-run Bradford Council is determined to build on this green space and we will now have a public referendum on the issue. Does my right hon. Friend agree that responsible brownfield development involves local authorities listening to what local people want, and that Labour-run Bradford Council should not ignore my constituents?

My hon. Friend will know that, due to the quasi-judicial role, I cannot say too much about individual plans or proposals, but I know that he fights incredibly hard for his constituents in Keighley. What I can say is that when a planning application comes forward, there is a period for local consultation. That consultation needs to be local, and the council should listen to the concerns. Much of what we are introducing in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill will make it easier for the development of local plans and easier for people to engage so that they can decide what is built where in their communities.

Will the Secretary of State and his gang be honest with the British public? All the time I hear people on the Government Benches saying that we have to build on brownfield land, but if it is brownfield land that can be built on and it is where people want to live, it has usually been built on already. The fact is that if this Government want to build houses, they will sometimes have to build them on green-belt land and other sites, and they will have to be imaginative about it. Do not con the British people. Brownfield land building will not meet the needs.

I completely disagree with the hon. Gentleman. The fact is that we have run a national register and it has identified more than 28,000 hectares of developable land, which is enough for 1 million homes. I make no apology for wanting regeneration, and I make no apology for wanting brownfield before green belt.

At this moment there are 20 million tonnes of wheat locked up in Ukraine and we are facing a significant food shortage across the world in the years to come. Does the Minister agree that, at a time like this, using good productive land in the UK for solar farms is disgraceful and that the forthcoming national planning policy framework ought to discourage the use of agricultural land for solar farms rather than encourage it?

I know that my hon. Friend has recently secured a Westminster Hall debate on this issue. Where agricultural land is needed, we always suggest it should be the less good agricultural land, but we also need to ensure that we are producing our own energy for this country. That is a balance that needs to be struck locally.