Posted by: westlancashirerecord | December 18, 2016

Build On Green Belt But Not In My Back Yard: Javid

 timeslogo reports on Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, who has indulged himself in a bout of hypocrisy by calling for new homes to be built in the green belt while having himself tried to fight off such developments in his own constituency. Javid twice wrote to the Planning Inspectorate objecting to plans to allocate green-belt land for housing in his Conservative controlled Bromsgrove constituency in Worcestershire.

The revelations follow a speech he made last month calling on local authorities to consider releasing green-belt land for housing. Next month he will formalise that idea in a housing white paper proposing thousands of new homes be built on green-belt land through the use of “swaps”. These would allow councils to remove protections on one part of the green belt in return for creating a new area of protected land elsewhere.

In Bromsgrove, however, Javid has taken a different approach. In a letter written in May 2015, when he was business secretary, he called on planning inspectors to reject a scheme to release green-belt land in Bromsgrove bromsoffice for housing because of “the effects on air quality, environment, infrastructure and facilities for residents”. In a second letter in March he said the plan for 2,800 homes on Bromsgrove’s green belt would overwhelm local infrastructure. [Does that sound familiar to you?]

Javid was put in charge of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) by Theresa May in July and in one of his first Commons statements declared England’s 4m acres of green-belt land, covering 13% of the country, to be “absolutely sacrosanct”. Since then, however, his rhetoric has changed. In one recent speech, referring to green-belt developments, he said “Where local councils come forward with sensible, robust local plans and are willing to take tough decisions I will back them all the way”.

Javid’s apparent conversion reflects the sheer scale of England’s housing crisis. England’s population is projected to rise from 53m in 2014 to 62m by 2039 a 9m increase. London’s population alone will grow from 9m to 13m, while across England the number of households is projected to rise from 23m to 28m. It means 5m new homes many on greenfield sites. Since many local authorities are reluctant to approve greenfield planning applications, Javid’s department has forced them to comply by making them draw up plans allocating land for new homes javid.

If they fail to do this then developers can put in planning applications on any land they like and usually win them on appeal. This has led to a wave of speculative developments in the 40% of areas where councils have failed to complete a plan. It also means local authorities such as Bromsgrove and Redditch are rushing to implement plans even if it means allocating green-belt land for housing.

This is the process that Javid was objecting to but which the department he now runs oversees. The DCLG said “Local authorities may only alter green-belt boundaries in exceptional circumstances. It is for elected local councils to decide where new homes should and shouldn’t go. Our white paper next month will set out how we plan to build the homes this country needs”.


Responses

  1. This whole situation is bloody unsustainable. I joined the CPRE a few years ago – in order to have my tuppenny worth. I have tried and tried to get them to alter their plan of attack from cosying up to ministers in Westmister back rooms and being in total denial as to the cause of England’s population explosion – to an approach which is more informative and honest to the general population, but they absolutely refuse to budge…

    This is the latest comment I put up in reply to a Facebook post by the CPRE bemoaning the fact that London etc are swallowing up surrounding villages at an astonishing rate…

    ‘The only way this will be stopped is to go populist. Ordinary people need to know what is happening – it’s all about numbers. Trying to sweet-talk Ministers who will agree one thing then change their mind as soon as you leave the bubble will never ever work. They’re playing you, you have no influence with them because you do not have a broad enough base of membership/associate/friends. The message needs to be simple, unrelenting and aimed at 50 million people. You also need a charismatic spokesperson who can talk the language of the ordinary person in the street. I have been a member for a while now – have to say it’s a depressing experience watching the country I love being trowel-trashed. Green & pleasant becoming Grey & breeze block. Green belt sacrificed because it’s a cheap quick-build solution rather than bothering with the time and expense of clearing and cleaning brownfield sites.’

    The comment below was by another member on a different CPRE post on the pressure new builds is putting on rural communities… Other than from me, you just would not have seen this kind of comment this time last year, so maybe, at last, the penny is dropping…

    ‘300,000 extra people came in this year.
    And the year before.
    And the year before that.
    And then 200,000 extra a year for the previous 10 years.

    That’s a demand for 3 new Leicesters and 10 new Gatesheads to be built for their homes.

    Let that sink in for a moment….

    There there are the woods and fields to be ripped up for their roads, rail, airports, factories, shops, schools, hospitals, prisons, sewage systems, water supply, land-fill, car parks, power-stations, etc. And how will we cope with the flooding brought after covering so much of the land in tarmac and concrete?

    People need to wake up and smell the coffee before it’s too late. We can start by not dismissing these concerns as “Racist”, which is an idiotic and inaccurate generalisation that is being used to push this unsustainable behaviour.

    The problem, of course, is that no-one in any position of influence (and sadly that appears to include the CPRE) are willing to raise this because the Right-On flash mob will descend from on high and demand the heads of all involved.’

    • Agree one hundred percent…”300,000 extra people came in this year. And the year before. And the year before that. And then 200,000 extra a year for the previous 10 years. That’s a demand for 3 new Leicesters and 10 new Gatesheads to be built for their homes. Let that sink in for a moment…” Stark and staggering figures.

  2. It isn’t fair to accuse Mr Javid of NIMBYism. Each constituency contains its own set of challenges. Bromsgrove has recently had several large scale housing developments so it does not need any more.

    • Fair point. But what happens when there is no need of more large scale developments but the Local Plan allows for it, especially on green belt land that’s growing crops? Developers then set about the legal process of appeal to planning authority, planning inspectorate, judicial review, all having to be defended from council tax. It’s one sided and just creates claims that localism isn’t for local communities, as here in West Lancashire.


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