MPs' green belt protection group meets Boles

An all-party parliamentary group set up by MPs concerned about protecting the green belt from development has held its first meeting.

Green belt: group intends to publish a report later this year
Green belt: group intends to publish a report later this year

The MPs met with planning minister Nick Boles last Wednesday at the group’s first public meeting to express concerns about development on green belt land.

The group is made up of about 50 MPs and was set up by the Tory MP for Kingswood in South Gloucestershire, Chris Skidmore, who is now its chair.

It also has the support of campaigning charities Civic Voice and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Skidmore told Planning that the group was made up of MPs from both sides of the house and was focused specifically on the issue of development in green belt, rather than greenfield land or the countryside more generally.

He said: "This is not a ‘nimby’ group that’s anti-development in any way.

"We are hoping to safeguard green belt for the future."

Skidmore said there had been concerns from members following recent decisions recently where planning inspectors had ruled that councils without a five-year housing land supply should release green belt land for development.

"We are not anti-building on green belt in special circumstances or where the community supportive of it," he said.

The group is aiming to put together a report in the autumn, Skidmore said, with ideas about how green belt should be preserved.

He said a community right of appeal against permission of green belt development was among the issues they might explore.

"We don’t want to fall into the simple trend where the belt is continually being loosened," Skimore added.

Writing on his blog, group secretary Guy Opperman, Tory MP for Hexham said: "It is beyond doubt that leading the campaign to defend our precious greenbelt from developers, who are simply looking for a quick profit, is the right thing to do for the people I represent.

"We have now been able to expand that campaign to the heart of government."

In a previous posting, Opperman said: "Locally, we believe that we have the ability to provide the development we need on brownfield sites before allowing any green belt development."

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