• Issue 39

  • Aug 2018

The Source

“Difficult Conversations” Needed Over Green Belt Homes

The government may have to face “difficult conversations” with core constituency support about where we build on green fields and the need for green belt homes. Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned the Tories they must accept more building on the green belt where available land could not be demonstrated to have specific aesthetic value.

“Not all green belt land is areas of outstanding natural beauty, some of it is not very good quality land that was made green belt for a different purpose decades ago – that means a difficult conversation with our own supporters about where we build on green fields,” he said.

Mr Rees-Mogg said ministers should change planning rules to make it “easier to build small-scale and low-density schemes” – effectively maintaining the character of rural communities without turning villages into suburbs.

“I think most villages across the country could take 10, 20, 30, 40 or perhaps 50 houses without changing their character if the density is low and they are not put in the same place.”

Rees-Mogg’s approach on green belt building backs that of Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, who earlier this month sparked a row after she argued planning laws should be ripped up and complained about the number of NIMBYs in Britain. The Cabinet Minister said “a lot more” sites needed to be opened up for building.

Campaigners have however warned that the green belt is already being “gobbled up at an alarming rate” to build thousands of homes. A report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England earlier this month cautioned against developing on the green belt, which the group argues is “being eroded at an alarming rate” with planning for almost 460,000 homes pencilled in for the land designation since 2013.