Planning and development are big issues for our area. I’ve discussed them at length with senior council officers as well as elected councillors and local people. And my recent survey of 35,000 people across the area also asked people’s views on the issue.
While some said they oppose all house-building, most agree we need more affordable homes and should use brownfield sites. Most want existing communities respected, valuable green belt land protected and proper infrastructure provided.
I agree. With our economy struggling, I’ve called for a £10bn boost to housing investment to build more affordable homes and get the construction industry back to work.
These houses have to be the right kinds and built in the right places. But that’s not what is happening – and changes to national planning policy are at the heart of the problem.
Previously we had a strong brownfield-first policy. But this has been ditched, while the weak state of the housing market means developers are less keen on building affordable homes.
The result is pressure on greenfield and green belt sites, even where viable brownfield sites are widely available.
The wrong houses are being built in the wrong places and there is no money set aside to pay for infrastructure, like the primary schools we need.
I’ve written to Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for these things, on a number of occasions to raise local concerns about the impact of national policy. It is vital the Government understands the impact it is having in Morley and areas on the outskirts of cities like Leeds.
While green belt is threatened and our brownfield sites remain undeveloped, I will continue to press Government to change course.