Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson joins other MPs to form A

Bill Esterson


Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson and a group of MPs in Parliament are forming an All Party Group on the Greenbelt.

Bill and over 40 MPs of all political persuasions are forming the group.

The formation of the group comes as the Tories and Lib Dems in Government threaten the future of greenbelt throughout the UK.

Relaxation of the planning laws, under the Tory-Lib Dem Government's National Planning Policy Framework, has been called a developers' charter by opposition MPs.

Planning Minister Nick Boles has made clear his intention to open up the greenbelt for development, regardless of public opposition.

Local authorities are now being forced into drawing up local plans with government-set housing targets. These targets are directly forcing local councils to open up greenbelt to developers.

Bill Esterson and a growing number of MPs are concerned that the Tory-Lib Dem Government's open door policy to building on the greenbelt will mean the loss of great some of our countryside - including right here in Sefton.

Bill said: "There's been growing disquiet in Parliament of members of all parties to the Government's policy on building on the greenbelt. That is why a large number of us are forming this All Party Group on the Greenbelt.

"We can all see exactly what the recently introduced National Planning Policy Framework does - it opens the door to building on the greenbelt. And there is nothing that local authorities, councillors or individual MPs can do to stop it.

"The National Planning Policy Framework is a developers' charter.

"Our local councils are under extreme pressure to build houses, regardless of whether there is suitable land available or not. That's why we are seeing the planned encroachment of new build on our greenbelt here in Sefton. If councils do not agree a local plan the government has said that it will either impose a plan or let developers decide where to build. 

"Councils are clearly in an impossible position, all of which means that the government is encouraging building on the greenbelt and ending the protection of the green belt which has been in place for many years. Under the last government, planning policy meant that developers had to build on former industrial sites or renovate existing housing before even considering the green belt. That policy has been scrapped by this government and now it is clear that we are going to see large scale building in the green belt."

Bill said that if the government was going to insist on building in the green belt, it was vital that any houses built matched the need of the community. He said that means more affordable properties built to house local young people, but the government's policy will simply create wealth for developers at the expense of our communities.

Bill said: "Our young people need homes in which to live. We need affordable properties for them to get onto the housing ladder or to have affordable places to rent. But the NPPF and the Tory-Lib Dem Government's policy fails to do that.

"It fails to draw up a co-ordinated approach to the housing crisis. Young people can't get mortgages at the moment. You can build as many houses as you like, but unless first time buyers can get the credit they need, then there won't be the people to buy the houses.

"The long term damage of the Tory-Lib Dem approach could be devastating. It will see an end t the protection of the green belt. But it could also see the wrong houses being built. 

"If we are going to lose green belt, the local communities need to see a benefit. That means houses for local people and it means making sure the roads, schools, drains and health services are in place to minimise the impact on the existing community. It is vital that the concerns of local people are taken on board and I am just not convinced that the government is listening to the people in places like Sefton when it comes to development and planning.

"These, and the many other concerns raised with me by my constituents, will be the points I raise at the first meeting of the All Party Group on the Greenbelt."



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