HC Deb 11 July 2000 vol 353 cc698-700
14. Mr. James Clappison (Hertsmere)

What plans he has to give additional protection to the green belt. [128413]

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Mr. Nick Raynsford)

The Government remain firmly committed to the protection of green belts. Planning policy guidance note 2 contains a presumption against inappropriate development in designated green belts.

Mr. Clappison

Earlier the Secretary of State spoke about obtaining more information about brownfield sites, but is he aware that in authorities such as Hertsmere, the planners have already done their homework and, in that borough as in many others in the south-east of England, there are precious few brownfield sites left in the sense of previously developed sites, let alone derelict or damaged sites? Is he aware that the greater the housing targets required of boroughs, the greater the incursion will be into the green belt, at the expense of the countryside, the environment and quality of life? Will he consider real policies to strengthen the green belt, rather than concreting over huge swaths of countryside, and will he listen to the views of Serplan?

Mr. Raynsford

As a former Minister in the Department that we have succeeded, the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well the very considerable range of policy development that has taken place in the three years since we took over responsibility from him and his colleagues. He will know about PPG3; he will know about the sequential approach; and he will know about the proposals on increasing densities. They are all designed to ensure that we make better use of brownfield sites, that we provide for the housing needs of our country and that we do so while taking no more greenfield land than would otherwise have been required. That is practical, sensible politics, designed to balance a responsible attitude to the environment with a responsible attitude towards meeting housing needs.