Wirral MP calls for stronger protection for the green belt
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23 Jun 2021
Margaret Greenwood, MP for Wirral West, has branded the government's proposals for the future of planning as a “developers’ charter” and has said that they remove “the right of local people to challenge inappropriate developments in their own street or neighbourhood”.
Last year, the government put forward proposals to make major changes to the planning system in England. Ministers intend that new-style local plans will divide land into three zones: ‘growth’, ‘renewal’ and ‘protected’.
While residents will be consulted on these zones during the development of a local plan, once that plan is completed, residents will have very little say – and in the vast majority of cases, no say at all – on what gets built in ‘growth’ and ‘renewal’ areas.
‘Protected’ areas, which will include the green belt and other important areas of green space, will continue to be subject to the current planning application process; nevertheless development could still take place in such areas.
Labour this week held an Opposition Day Debate and forced a vote on the issue, calling on the government to protect the right of communities to object to individual planning applications. The vote was won by 231 to zero, with Conservative MPs abstaining. The result, however, is not binding on the government.
Margaret Greenwood also used her speech to express her support for campaigners opposing the installation of a 5G mast in a residential area in West Kirby.
Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said:
“It is a fundamental right that people should have their say on individual planning applications, yet it is one that the government wants to take away from them.
“The importance of protecting that right and ensuring that the planning system involves local residents was abundantly clear to me recently when I met residents in West Kirby campaigning against the installation of an 18-metre high 5G mast on the corner of Sandy Lane and Macdona Drive. They talked me through the impact that such a proposal would have on the local community and I fully support their campaign.
“People have been in touch with me too with their concerns about Leverhulme Estates arguing for the release of what they describe as ‘greenfield land’ for development in Wirral.
“A number of people have spoken to me about their concerns at seeing surveyors out in the fields near Greasby and between Barnston and Thingwall. They are concerned that those fields are at risk, and I share their concerns.
“People in Wirral West want to see a clear commitment from the government to protect the green belt, and I share this view. However, the government’s proposals for the future of planning offer no such thing. Clearly, under this government, such areas are not safe from development.
“We need housing, but it is important that it is built on brownfield sites.
“I believe that the government should be giving local people more say in what happens in their neighbourhood, not less.
“The government’s proposals are nothing short of a developers’ charter and they must be stopped.”