Barbara Keeley MP


Barbara's Salford Advertiser Column, 6 October 2011

Greenfield landThe Conservative-led Government’s disruptive reforms are causing problems for people in Worsley and Eccles South. They plan to make radical changes to the planning system which worry many people locally. When the changes come in, financial incentives to develop land will be considered within planning for the first time. The Government is offering a bonus to councils for every new house built and more houses also mean more council tax.

There are other changes to planning. The Government want councils to follow a presumption in favour of development. The proposed planning policy has slimmed down the guidance to councils from over a thousand pages to just fifty two. In doing this many of the protections in the previous planning system will be lost including use of brownfield land. Under Labour, brownfield land had to be considered first for development and this helped to protect greenfield land. Developers prefer to use greenfield land because it is simpler and cheaper to develop than using brownfield land.

The Government is telling councils they should approve all individual proposals wherever possible. Neighbourhoods are supposed to have some say, but the Government’s reforms tell them they should support local development. The only power they have is to promote more development than is set out in the Local Plan.

These policies are making people angry and worried. Conservative Ministers, including the Prime Minister, keep protesting that they will protect green belt and greenfield land. But anybody reading through their policies can see that they will lead to a free-for-all in planning. There will be much development that is unwanted by local people and green open spaces, like Burgess Farm in Walkden, are threatened.  There is still time to protest about these changes. I will continue to protest to the Government about them and to argue for the need to protect our local green fields and open spaces.

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