Margaret Greenwood MP has said that the government needs to take action now to drive the development of brownfield sites and that much stronger protections are needed for the green belt.
The Wirral West MP was speaking in a parliamentary debate in which she added that, without such action from the government, developers will simply carry on pushing to build on green belt sites.
A recent report by CPRE, the countryside charity, found that the number of new homes that could be built on brownfield land has reached record levels, with more than half a million homes with planning permission waiting to be built. It revealed that over 1.2 million homes could be built on 23,000 sites covering more than 27,000 hectares of previously developed land.
However, the report pointed out that, despite this, development of the highest quality farmland has soared 100-fold in 10 years.
This led Margaret Greenwood to argue that there is work to be done to ensure that the development that can take place on brownfield sites does indeed take place there.
She noted that there are often barriers to developing brownfield sites, one of which is the need for remediating works, and she questioned whether the government are doing enough to help local authorities with this.
The debate took place on the same day that an application by Leverhulme Estates for up to 240 homes in Greasby was refused by Wirral Council.
Leverhulme Estates had already begun an appeal process for a series of other applications for development on green belt land that were refused last year by the council.
During the debate, Margaret Greenwood repeated her call on Leverhulme Estates to abandon their plans to build homes on the green belt in Wirral West.
Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “I stand with local residents in their fight to protect the green belt.
“Over 60% of the land in Wirral West is green belt. It is a very beautiful part of the world, and it is no wonder that people feel passionate about protecting it.
“We need to see the rapid development of high quality homes on brownfield sites.
“Wirral Council’s position is clear: sufficient brownfield land and opportunities exist within the urban areas of Wirral, and exceptional circumstances to justify alterations to the green belt boundaries do not exist.
“Yet developers are challenging this, causing distress for local people who value the green belt highly and want to see it preserved for the benefits it brings to health and wellbeing, as well as for environmental reasons.
“We need to see policy from the government that drives the development of brownfield sites to build the truly affordable, high quality zero-carbon homes that the country so desperately needs.
“The government talks about protecting the green belt, but it is clear that the protections in place are inadequate.
“I have called on the government to bring forward much stronger protections for the green belt as a matter of urgency.
“Without such protections, developers will continue to submit applications for housing on green belt land.
“I have previously called on Leverhulme Estates to abandon their plans to build homes on the green belt in Wirral West, and I do so again.”