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Housing and Homes

Part of Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:17 pm on 15th May 2018.

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Photo of Siobhain McDonagh Siobhain McDonagh Labour, Mitcham and Morden 6:17 pm, 15th May 2018

It is a delight to follow Bob Blackman, who had many very good ideas, but we have to talk about the green belt in London. There is enough land to build a million homes that are 10 minutes from tube and train stations and an hours’ journey away.

What is the green belt? What is the land that I am talking about? Is it nice, pleasant and green—somewhere we would wish to spend the day with our families? No. I spent my bank holiday going around and looking at some of these sites. I started over in Hillingdon, where I saw an illegal waste tip and stood on 20 feet of rubble that could be land on which we could build 3,500 new homes. I went along the A40 to Ealing, where I saw, close to a mosque, two schools and a train station, a site covered with building rubble and surrounded by chain-link fencing. I then went to the pièce de résistance: a tyre-changing shop and car-valeting service at Tottenham Hale, where a housing association had had its application for housing turned down because it was green belt.

At some point, we have to stop being frightened of the title and inspect what land makes up this designation. I do not want to build on a park that children use, or on rolling green fields that people enjoy on their bank holidays, but I do want to build on scrappy bits of land that nobody in their right mind would choose to regard as green belt.