Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, launched a strong attack on proposals floated by the Labour Party to abolish the Green Belt. The Labour Party is reported to be drawing up policies for a future Parliament which include scrapping Green Belt protection. Peter Lilley said “this confirms fears raised by the government decision to call in the planning application for building up to 10,000 houses between Hitchin and Stevenage that government is now willing to sacrifice the Green Belt”.
Peter Lilley added: “There have been pressures on the Green Belt throughout my time in Parliament, but so far we have been able to resist them. Not a single acre of Green Belt has been sacrificed to house building over the last 20 years.
“Labour‘s plans to let rip with the bulldozer and concrete mixer will provoke huge outrage across Hitchin and Harpenden. We all want to see more affordable housing; yet abolishing the Green Belt would just result in more executive homes being dumped on our green spaces, rather than addressing the demand for more housing to buy and rent near existing communities that have schools, hospitals and other amenities. It is essential to retain the green lungs between Hitchin and Stevenage and between Harpenden and Luton and St Albans.
“I shall continue to support the Green Belt vigorously and will be speaking in April at the Public Inquiry into the proposed development west of Stevenage.”
Note to Editors:
The Guardian reported on 3 February 2004 a series of proposals that Labour is planning for the next Parliament.
“In one of the most radical initiatives, No 10 is looking at addressing the chronic housing shortage by scrapping post-war Green Belt building controls in return for setting up national parks. Ministers believe the population trends are so clear that the Green Belts will have to be relaxed. They are already so eroded and of questionable environmental significance that it may be better to offer a larger, more coherent, set of protected parks. The strategy was hinted at in the Barker review on housing, published at the time of the chancellor‘s pre-budget report in November.”
Green Belts have been designated in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to restrict the sprawl of built up areas on to previously undeveloped land and to preserve the character of historic towns.
A map of Green Belt in England is at:
Green Belts were formally introduced by 1955 by a Conservative Government. The then Minister for Housing and Local Government, Duncan Sandys, told Parliament, “I am convinced that, for the well-being of our people and for the preservation of the countryside, we have a clear duty to do all we can to prevent the further unrestricted sprawl of the great cities” (HC Debs, col. 45W, 26 April 1955).