Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, pledged today that Conservatives
    would resist Government plans to centralise the planning system and Liberal
    Democrat proposals to take many planning decisions at a distant regional
    level. While a cross-party House of Commons Committee last week condemned
    Labour?s plans as “unworkable”, Gordon Brown and John Prescott are expected
    to announce soon further proposals to weaken planning protection against
    housebuilding on greenfield sites.

    Peter Lilley said:

    “There is overwhelming opposition to Labour?s ill thought-out planning
    proposals. Their changes will be bad for business, bad for democracy and bad
    for the environment. The proposals could allow the Government to re-impose
    plans to build 10,000 houses on Green Belt land west of Stevenage even
    though the elected County Council has been developing alternative solutions
    which will provide the extra housing in more suitable locations.

    “By contrast, Conservatives pledge to protect local communities? say on
    planning decisions and safeguard the role of district and county councils.
    We want to strengthen the role of local councils. Rather than building more
    executive homes on the Green Belt, we need to focus on regenerating our
    existing towns and cities, and ensure there is more affordable housing to
    buy and rent in urban areas.

    “Yet Liberal Democrats offer nothing better. Despite what they may say
    locally, their national party wants housebuilding and spatial planning
    decisions to be taken at a regional, not a local level. This would mean that
    politicians and bureaucrats in Cambridge or Norwich could impose sprawling
    housing estates between Hitchin and Stevenage and between Harpenden and
    Luton irrespective of local wishes.”