Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has deplored the lack of public consultation on plans to build thousands of new homes on Green Belt land near Luton.

    Speaking after visiting an exhibition at Offley organised by the developer Bloor Homes, he criticised the level of publicity given to the event.

    “Putting on an event like this at short notice and without making sure people know about it does not qualify as consultation. I am positive more people would have attended if there had been more notification.

    “The developers would like to give the impression that this proposal is a fait accompli but it is not. It is one of a number of schemes being floated in several different local areas. They will not all be approved.”

    The plans would involve building thousands of new homes to the east of Luton, taking in the villages of Cockernhoe, Mangrove Green and encroaching on Lilley.

    Peter Lilley, who was joined by local District Councillor David Barnard and County Councillor Derrick Ashley, said: “This is a beautiful piece of countryside and is quite rightly protected as part of the Green Belt separating Hitchin from Luton. It is totally unacceptable that Luton and Bedfordshire should seek to meet their housing needs by encroaching into Hertfordshire and absorbing its villages.”

    The government wants more than 26,000 new homes built in the Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis area by 2021 as part of its housing programme for the south east of England.

    Peter Lilley is committed to defending the Green Belt. He said: “I accept that we need to build more homes to meet the needs of a growing population, but our priority should be to build them on brown field sites and within already built up areas. We need green lungs between our urban areas to maintain the quality of the environment.

    “The Government’s own figures show that nearly 40% of the extra households in future years will be the result of allowing immigration to exceed emigration. We would still need to build more homes even if we moved, as I believe we should, to a more balanced immigration policy. But it would almost certainly not be necessary to sacrifice the Green Belt.