July 2015

GOVERNMENT MINISTER SAYS: “NO NEED TO BUILD ON GREEN BELT” AND LABOUR MAYORAL CANDIDATE CALLS IT “CATASTROPHIC”

Two influential national politicians – one Conservative and one Labour – have made statements in the past few days firmly nailing their parties to the mast of protecting the green belt from housing development.

The Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday 10th July in which he made the unequivocal statement that “There’s no need to build on the green belt – the green belt can rightly be protected. I think we don’t need to do that, yes we have lots of green belt in this country but it’s very valuable and we need it. We don’t need to look at the green belt.” He went on to state that a register is to be compiled of brownfield sites around the country that are suitable for housebuilding.

Sadiq Khan, Labour MP for Tooting and a London mayoral candidate, spoke after visiting Valentines Park for the Eid in the Park event on Friday 17th July, stating that building on the borough’s green belt would be “catastrophic”.

He said: “For me, the green belt is sacred – I have spoken to developers and there’s more than enough land in London to develop that isn’t green belt – it’s very easy to do but it takes political will. You’re not going to get the right type of homes by building on green belt. If you allow building on green belt it raises its value and the properties that are built on it won’t be affordable. Building on it would be catastrophic – once it’s gone it’s gone and you can’t get it back.”

The comments come after Redbridge Council Leader Cllr. Jas Athwal defended Oakfield Playing Fields, Forest Road, Barkingside, being earmarked for development. Cllr Athwal told the Ilford Recorder that the borough’s housing need would not be met with brownfield sites alone. The council leader said that the borough had more than 7,000 households in housing need in March.

Speaking about Mr. Javid’s comments he said: “He needs to look at the population growth of Redbridge – it has to be managed.”

A council spokesman said: “It’s important to note that there is a distinction between land in the green belt which still meets its purpose, and land that no longer meets its green belt purpose. An independent green belt review in 2010 found that the Oakfield site was no longer meeting its green belt purpose.”

The AHDA finds the statement by the council spokesman difficult to understand for, as far as we are aware, if an area is designated as green belt it takes more than an ‘independent green belt review’ (by an anonymous and nameless body) to declare otherwise.

AHDA Chairman has made the following statement: “We warmly welcome the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Minister’s very clear and unequivocal statement that ‘there’s no need to build on the green belt’.

“We also welcome the comment by Sadiq Khan, Labour MP for Tooting and a London mayoral candidate that building on the green belt would be ‘catastrophic’.

“We have been saying that for some years!

“We are aware that there are many brownfield sites in Redbridge that cry out for redevelopment.

“Some former shopping parades are eyesores with derelict structures, whilst others are redundant with the rise of supermarkets, with shops floors being used as offices or, even more inappropriately, as dwellings. Beds in sheds are bad enough; beds in shops are just as bad if not worse.

“The green belt of Fairlop Plain gives vital open breathing space for the 300,000 plus residents of this Borough. A decade ago many of us fought to protect Fairlop Waters from the desecration of the London City All-weather Racecourse so that today it is the jewel in the crown of Redbridge.

“Housing is desperately needed in Redbridge and building should be on brownfield sites. We call on Redbridge Council to keep their hands off the green belt. We now have government backing and support from a leading Labour politician for keeping the green belt sacrosanct!”

Further reading:
• Planning shake-up to get more homes built - BBC News - 10th July 2015
• Radio 4's Today programme (audio clip) - 10th July 2015
• LBR Statement on Local Plan - 3 June 2015
• Ilford Recorder Article - 16th July 2015
• Ilford Recorder Article - 23rd July 2015
• Ilford Recorder Letter - 30th July 2015

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