Monday, 10 November 2014

The political posturing around Green Belts

In a Telegraph piece today (10 November) Redrow Chairman Steve Morgan bemoans the "political posturing ahead of next year's General Election (that) is already having a detrimental impact on the time taken to grant planning permissions in many parts of the country."

To what might Mr Morgan be referring to? Well last month ministers "underlined the government’s commitment to protect the green belt from development" with 'new' guidance and, predcitably enough, two Surrey councils have already shelved plans for a Green Belt review.
Practioners though are seeing through the smoke and mirrors. This is an extract from a piece by Stephen Ashworth at Dentons.

In substance, neither additional paragraph makes any real contribution to our understanding of the policy in the NPPF. However, the ministerial statements that introduce the additions to the NPPG have given the impression that green belt policy has been tightened and that greater favour is now being given to brownfield land. That is wrong. There is no change of policy. Ministers should stop pretending that that is the case.

Down in Surrey Mole Valley councillor John Northcott said he could rule out any building in the green belt in the short term, but "in the longer term, who knows?" he said. I do not know Guildford and Mole Valley that well, but I do know that a third of Mole Valley's councillors and all of Guildford's councillors are up for re-election in May, so would hazard a guess at what happens in the long term. The Green Belt review will be revisted somewhere near the middle of the next electoral cycle and a local plan will includea redrawing of its boundaries.

The outcome will be the same and so will be the people in charge, which explains the political posturing around Green Belts...

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