Posted by: westlancashirerecord | December 13, 2016

Councils Offered Huge ‘Bribes’ To Build Homes On Green Belt

As we Aughtonians breathe a sigh of relief, short though it might be what with the power and money for developers to bring in appeal barristers paid big bucks, we are not naive enough to think this enemy has gone away. Let’s not beat around the bush, when councils are being offered “bribes” worth hundreds of millions of pounds to build homes in the green belt, those homes WILL be built, and developers will become rich beyond their expectations.

The Times timeslogo writes today that “The government has promised to pay councils a new homes bonus, typically worth £9,000, for each home they build including in England’s 14 green belts, the protected land around cities where development is meant to be strictly limited.

“East Hertfordshire district council is due to receive up to £128 million over 20 years for almost 16,000 homes on green belt land, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said. Central Bedfordshire council stands to gain £125 million over the same period for 13,000 homes and Guildford borough council could get £68 million for 8,200, £45m to Birmingham for 5,000 and £33m to Windsor & Maidenhead for 2,900.

“Almost 300,000 houses are being proposed by local authorities in the green belt, including more than 3,000 in Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency. The bonus was introduced in 2011 to incentivise councils to allocate more land for housing, but the purpose was to “encourage sensitive local development”. The government promises to match the sum raised in council tax from a new home for six years.

“Andrew Mitchell, the Conservative former cabinet minister, is seeking to block the bonus on green belt land with an amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, to be debated in the Commons today. The change would also stop councils claiming the bonus for major development in national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty. Mr Mitchell, who is fighting plans for 6,000 green-belt homes in his Sutton Coldfield constituency, said: “The government has made clear that the green belt is sacrosanct and should only be built on in very exceptional and unusual circumstances. This payment is a perverse incentive of which the government should disapprove since it encourages building on the green belt. To be blunt, it is a bribe. I am passionately in favour of building many more homes but they have to be built in the right place.”

“Paul Miner, the planning campaign manager at CPRE cprenew told The Times “There is growing concern in some rural areas that the new homes bonus is influencing important planning decisions behind the scenes. The government should fulfil its commitment to protecting the green belt and reform the new homes bonus to encourage the re-use of urban brownfield land.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government responded “It is totally wrong to say the new homes bonus is in any way being offered as an incentive for local authorities to build on green belt land. Local authorities may only alter green belt boundaries in exceptional circumstances. Where local communities [ahem who?] do make the difficult decision to permit the building of homes on small areas of green belt land, it would be very unfair to penalise them by withholding funding from the new homes bonus”.


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