Liberal Democrats have welcomed the all-party support for their Council motion calling on the Government to help protect our Green Belt.
This follows a suggestion by the Prime Minister in his speech to the Conservative Party conference that housebuilding should no longer require Green Belt to be used.
Liberal Democrat Planning Spokesperson, Cllr Ryan Bate said: We want Warrington Council to write to the government asking for clarification on any changes to national policy. This would allow the Council to amend the draft Local Plan and so remove Green Belt release. As it stands, the Council is bound by national policy which sets a housing figure that is almost impossible to meet without the release of Green Belt.
All political parties at the Town Hall have publicly and repeatedly stated their opposition to development of the Green Belt, only using it as a last resort. We must work together with Andy Carter MP to put pressure on the government to announce a policy change in time to save our Green Belt.
National policy insists that 2014 household projection statistics are used which invariably leads to a higher housing need figure than if more recent statistics are used. It also appears deeply flawed for Warrington to be required to plan for an annualised housing target that is way above the actual levels of housebuilding achieved in the recent past. Yet there are no examples of a Local Plan, from any authority of any political persuasion, passing an Examination in Public which doesn't meet the minimum housing need figure as calculated by that methodology.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Bob Barr added: Given that the government currently has a deadline of 2023 for all local authorities to have a legally adopted plan, I can understand the concern in not wanting a further significant delay. I am hopeful that any changes to government policy would come with the appropriately amended deadlines and assurances that allow authorities to make the necessary changes in order to protect Green Belt and not risk losing any planning powers.
If it is against government policy, we need to know why Homes England, a government agency answerable to the Secretary of State, is promoting its plan for the South East Warrington Urban Extension that needs 221 hectares of Green Belt land to be released, on top of the 31 hectares for which it already has planning permission.
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