My column in the Morley Observer

Planning and development are big issues for our area. I’ve discussed the issue at length with senior council officers as well as elected Councillors and local people. And my recent survey of 35,000 people across the area also asked people’s views on the issue.

While some people said they oppose all housebuilding, most agree we need more affordable homes and should use brownfield sites for them. Most want to see existing communities respected, valuable Green Belt land protected and proper infrastructure provided so that our local communities are not harmed.
 
I agree. With our economy struggling, I’ve called for a £10 billion boost to housing investment to build more affordable homes and to get our builders and the construction industry back to work.
 
These houses have to be the right kinds of homes and built in the right places. But that’s not what is happening – And changes to national planning policy are at the heart of the problem.

Previously we had a strong brownfield-first policy which promoted the development of sites that had previously had buildings on them. But this has been ditched through recent changes in the Government’s national planning policy, while the weak state of the housing market means developers are less keen on building affordable homes.

The result is pressure on greenfield and GreenBelt sites, even where viable brownfield sites are widely available.  The wrong houses are being built in the wrong places and there is no money set aside to pay for infrastructure, like the primary schools we need.
 
I’ve written to Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for these things, on a number of occasions to raise local concerns about the impact of national policy. It is vital the national government understands the impact national policy is having in Morley and other areas on the outskirts of big cities like Leeds. And while Green Belt is threatened at the same time as our brownfield sites remain undeveloped I will continue to press Government to change course.

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Posted August 21st, 2013 by Ed