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Comment on Keir Starmer article on Green Belt

15 May 2023

CPRE Director of Campaigns and Policy Tom Fyans today commented on Labour party leader Keir Starmer’s comments on Green Belt.

‘Small scale developments of genuinely affordable homes may be welcomed and are needed by rural communities, especially if on previously developed sites like old hospitals. But targeting the countryside for a building bonanza of executive homes most people can’t afford would be wrong, counterproductive and deeply unpopular.

‘Keir Starmer is absolutely right to say developers and landowners need to be prevented from deliberately slowing the rate at which they build houses to drive up prices – local authorities need more control to direct housebuilding where it is most needed.

‘And he’s bang on when he says targeting the green belt for ‘expensive executive housing’ upsets local communities because that’s not the homes that are needed. We’re facing a bona fide housing crisis, with an entire generation effectively priced out of home ownership. What’s more, far too many people are barely able to afford their rent.

‘A sustained period of social housebuilding is the only practical way to deliver the truly affordable homes we so desperately need, including in rural areas.

‘To boost economic growth, regenerate towns and city centres, and fix the housing crisis, hundreds of thousands of genuinely affordable homes need to be fast-tracked on brownfield sites, including on previously developed that needs regeneration in green belt. A sensible brownfield first planning policy not only protects the countryside, it offers the convenience of living near public transport, jobs and shops, meaning reduced carbon emissions and thriving urban centres.’