Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson calls on Tories and Lib D

Bill Esterson


Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson met with Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hilary Benn to discuss Labour's commitment to the 'brownfield first' policy.

The two Labour MPs also discussed the impact of the Tory-Lib Dem National Planning Policy Framework on local communities, including Sefton.

Sefton is preparing to launch its public consultation on its Local Plan, which sees areas open for development for the next 15 years.

Under the plan, which has been drawn up under the Lib Dem-Tory Government's strict Planning Policy Framework, Sefton will have to build up to 510 homes a year for the next 15 years - up to 150 homes a year are earmarked for Maghull.

Fifty per cent of land earmarked for development is greenbelt land.

Bill Esterson has repeatedly raised his concerns in Parliament about the destruction of the greenbelt because of the Tory-Lib Dem Government's policies and their recent changes to the planning rules which give the greenlight to developers that want to build on the greenbelt.

Bill said: "I met with Hilary Benn this week to specifically discuss the devastating impact this government's policies are having on our greenbelt. Under the last Labour government, money was available for the decontamination of land for development. 

"Tesco in Litherland is a prime example of how millions of pounds were available for decontamination of land for development. But under this Tory-Lib Dems government, that policy ended.

"I spoke to Labour’s spokesman on local government, Hilary Benn, and he agrees that we need to find a way of returning to a 'brownfield first' policy.. That means money being available for the decontamination of land in order to make brownfield sites suitable for building. In the difficult financial situation, this will be a challenge, but it is a challenge we must face head on as the best way of protecting as much of our green belt as possible.

"John Prescott introduced the brownfield first policy in order to safeguard our greenbelt from encroachment from development. The Tories and Lib Dems in Government have torn that policy up by ending the funding for decontamination of land.

"It is an issue which the National Trust has raised concerns about. They have conducted research which clearly shows a shift in priority by the government away from building on brownfield to greenfield. A growing number of greenfield sites are being prioritised for development because of the Tory-Lib Dem change of policy. Developers are arguing that brownfield sites, many of which already have planning permission for development, are now unprofitable to build on.

"Developers are businesses. They want the best return possible for their investment. They know they will make more on properties built on greenbelt than on brownfield. And it is no surprise that the Tory-Lib Dem Government is backing big business over the interests of local communities."

Bill said that while he supports the building of affordable properties, the Tory-Lib Dem changes to planning laws are leading to the loss of greenbelt and damaging communities.

Bill said: "As I have repeatedly stated to Eric Pickles, my view is that we need to go back to a brownfield first policy as it is right for developing sustainable communities and also for protecting the environment. 

"We need affordable housing so local people can get onto the property ladder or rent homes in the areas in which they live and have their roots. My concern, and the concern of other MPs in Parliament of all parties, is that this government's policies are failing to deliver those affordable properties while at the same time directly leading to the destruction of the greenbelt.

"As a result, we are seeing disproportionate, large scale development being planned for places like Maghull and Formby, with no regard for local infrastructure or for the people who live there now."


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