Brownfield Land/Green Belt

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th June 2016.

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Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire 12:00 am, 6th June 2016

What steps his Department is taking to (a) ensure the use of brownfield land and (b) protect the green belt.

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

We are committed to retaining strong protection of the green belt, and its boundaries can be changed only in exceptional circumstances. Brownfield land has an important role in delivering new housing, and we have taken steps to maximise the number of dwellings built on suitable brownfield land.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

I thank the Minister for that answer. The approach to ensuring that brownfield land is built on and that the green belt is protected is absolutely the right one. What plans have the Government made available to support the remediation of brownfield sites?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

My hon. Friend has pushed passionately in her own constituency to ensure that the maximum use for brownfield land is found. Through the Housing and Planning Act 2016, planning permission in principle for brownfield registers is coming through, and there is a £1.2 billion fund for starter homes, which is obviously applicable to the brownfield sites. We have also made more money available in the spending review, which will be put in the public domain later this year, to make sure that we get planning permission for 90% of all the brownfield land by the end of this Parliament.

Photo of Rob Flello Rob Flello Labour, Stoke-on-Trent South

Stone-on-Trent has swathes of brownfield land, yet vulturesque developers are trying pounce on green sites off Meadow Lane in Trentham and down in Lightwood. If the developers get turned down at the planning stage, they get right of appeal after right of appeal, but if my communities lose, that is it—they are dead in the water. They want to know why they cannot have the right of appeal to stop developers building on green sites when there are so many brownfield sites available.

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

The best protection for these areas comes from having not just a local plan but neighbourhood planning in place. We have made it clear that a neighbourhood plan should be respected and has weight in law. The appeals system is part of natural justice when it comes to how the planning system deals with the landowners’ use of their own land, as we outlined in the last stages of the Housing and Planning Act. I would encourage the hon. Gentleman’s local residents to get a neighbourhood plan in place. That will give them the best protection to make sure that they have development they think is appropriate in their area, and put pressure on the local authority to make the best possible use of its brownfield land.

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Conservative, Aldridge-Brownhills

It is vital to take steps to unlock the potential for brownfield housing developments while continuing to protect the precious green belt, which is integral in areas such as Aldridge and Streetly in my constituency. Will the Minister assure me that where brownfield sites are clustered together, as parts of a combined authority or in plans such as those for the black country garden city, each local authority will retain control and responsibility for planning decisions under its control?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

My hon. Friend makes a good point. The planning authority is the local authority, which has planning and decision-making power over its own land. I stress that for all such areas a neighbourhood plan has weight in law, and thanks to the Housing and Planning Act 2016, local authorities will make brownfield registers available to identify and make it clear for developers where the brownfield land that can be developed is located. They can then look to getting the funding together to develop it.