HL Deb 22 May 1973 vol 342 cc1090-2

2.44 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it remains their policy to preserve the North Cheshire Green Belt and, in particular, to prohibit the building of houses in that narrow portion of the Belt lying betyeen Poynton and Stockport.


My Lords, it is the policy of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to give protection to the proposed North Cheshire Green Belt until he is in a position to make a final decision on its status after the completion of the Regional Strategy for the North-West. Whether any particular planning application for residential development in the Green Belt should be allowed is a matter to be considered on its merits.


My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for replying to my Question. May I ask whether he is aware that the latter part of his Answer is a little difficult to reconcile with the firm assurances which he gave to your Lordships' House during the Committee and Third Reading stages of the Local Government Bill? May I also ask whether he is aware that there is very grave disquiet in the locality about the outcome of the present public inquiry regarding the application to build houses on 65 acres of the Belt at its most vulnerable point? Finally, will the Minister ask his right honourable friend to reconsider his attitude to the Green Belt in this area?


My Lords, I am aware that there has been a proposal recently considered at a public local inquiry. I am sure that the anxieties and views which the noble Lord has stated have been expressed before the inspector at that inquiry, and that those views and all other relevant considerations will be carefully weighed by my right honourable friend when he takes his decision on that inquiry.


My Lords, arising out of the tenor of the Minister's first reply, may I ask whether he is in a position to give any encouragement to the hope that recent Press allegations, that encroachment on the Green Belt at the circumference of the Metropolis is to be expected, are probably incorrect?


My Lords, I think that the subject of the Green Belt in the London Metropolis is going rather wide of this Question. But Green Belts in general are excluded from those areas where there is a presumption in favour of housing under the recent policy announced by Her Majesty's Government.


My Lords, can the noble Lord give any indication as to when the Statement by his right honourable friend is likely to be made?


My Lords, the inquiry was held in April. We have yet to consider the inspector's report.