William Wragg MP clashes with Government over housing targets to protect greenbelt
William Wragg, Conservative Member of Parliament for the Hazel Grove constituency, has today criticised Government proposals to amend the way it calculates housing targets, which he says presents a threat to the greenbelt, and branding it a ‘departure from evidence based policy making’.
Mr Wragg, who has been an MP since 2015 and who is a long time campaigner to protect the greenbelt, today submitted evidence to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s consultation on planning policy, and urging the Government to not to proceed with its planned updates to national planning policy and guidance.
While not the most exciting subject in politics at the moment, the consultation proposes important changes to national planning policy. It proposed to ignore the latest forecasts and predictions published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), and instead rely on the 2014-based ONS figures instead. In September 2018 the ONS released its most up-to-date population figures and household forecasts, which proved to be almost 25% lower than previously though. The result is that the Ministry of Housing seeks to overlook the latest ONS figures which would give rise to a housing needs target of some 213,000 new homes per year, and instead stick to its previous target of 300,000 new homes per year, which would lead to increased pressure to build on greenbelt land.
In his consultation response, Mr Wragg was highly critical of the proposals amendments to revising the standard method for assessing, and said that the lower 2016-based figures should be used in place of the now obsolete 2014-based ones.
William Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove said:
“I am deeply disappointed in the overall direction of travel, objective, and method of the proposals for changes to planning practice guidance on the standard method for assessing local housing need contained within the consultation.
“It represents a clear attempt to by the Ministry to selectively consider evidence which justifies its pre-ordained housing needs figures, and making explicit that the direction of travel is only one way. It is a departure from evidence based policy making, and is a case of cherry-picking its facts to ensure that the means to justify the ends.”
Mr Wragg, has for several years represented his constituent’s strong views on local planning matters. This has included over 4,000 residents signing petitions to give greater protection to greenbelt land from large scale housing developments.
He went on to call for a ‘brownfield-first’ planning policy in order to slow down the continued erosion of the greenbelt. He said:
“The fact is we need more housing, but this should be implemented following a vigorous ‘brownfield-first’ policy, insisting that brownfield land which has had development on it previously, should be prioritised for the building of houses, and not greenbelt. This would encourage regeneration of towns, make best use of land, and be located where the necessary infrastructure such as transport and local services already exist.”
The Ministry of Housing’s consultation on updates to national planning policy and guidance remains open to 7th December.
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