Full marks to Liberal Democrat Coun Ian Auckland for raising concerns about planning and the green belt.
However, not for the first time, he gets zero marks for his analysis about cause and responsibility. (Housing land review, The Star, December 16).
The all-Party Communities and Local Government Select Committee, which I chair, has investigated and reported on the implications of this Conservative/Lib Dem government’s changes to the planning system.
Amongst other matters, we have been unanimously supporting the presumption of ‘brownfield first’ development, particularly for housing.
In Committee, in Parliament, and in a meeting with the Planning Minister, I have criticised the undermining of the presumption of ‘brownfield first’ by the new policies.
This forces councils to ignore many brownfield sites and, instead, identify additional housing land on greenfield sites. The Government is enforcing this policy through the threat of the Planning Inspectorate – either in overriding local plans or by giving approval on appeal to applications by developers to build on greenfield sites.
To the best of my knowledge, the only person in Sheffield, who could do something about it, is the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.
If Coun Auckland wants me to join him in lobbying Mr Clegg to get a change, I’ll be happy to do so. I await his call.
Clive Betts MP, Sheffield South East