Broxtowe adopts green belt release plan despite minister's last-minute letter

A Nottinghamshire council has adopted its local plan in spite of a last-minute letter from the housing minister urging the authority to prioritise brownfield development because of the document's release of green belt land.

Broxtowe Borough Council. Image: David Lally
Broxtowe Borough Council. Image: David Lally

Esther McVey wrote to Broxtowe Borough Council earlier this month to welcome progress made on its Local Plan Part Two while "seeking further reassurance" that it would "prioritise" development on brownfield land "going forward".

McVey cited the council’s intention to remove several areas of land from the green belt and said she was writing to "remind" the authority "of the importance the government attaches to maximising use of previously developed land for new development".

The plan set out site allocations and development management policies for the borough up to 2028, and provides for up to 7,512 homes over the plan period.

It proposes removing a number of areas of land from the green belt, including 153 hectares at Toton, where a new High Speed Two station is planned, for up to 800 homes, plus sites at Awsworth, Brinsley, Kimberley, Bramcote and Stapleford.  

Broxtowe councillors last night voted 34 to one that the Local Plan Part Two should be adopted. Three councillors abstained.

Officers advised elected members that benefits of adopting the plan included "enabling better management of development as a result of having up-to-date development management policies" and "avoiding the need to go through the inevitably lengthy and very costly process of producing a new plan".

Earlier this month, inspector Helen Hockenhull published her report on the plan’s examination, advising that "exceptional circumstances" existed to justify the release of green belt sites. 

The inspector said: "The amendment of green belt boundaries and the release of land from the green belt within Broxtowe as part of the [the local plan is] necessary to meet the housing needs of the borough to 2028 and beyond."

In her letter to Broxtowe Borough Council, McVey wrote: "I am grateful to the inspector for her work on this plan and would like to make clear that I am not commenting on the merits of her recommendations but rather am responding on how the local authority intends to implement the plan once adopted."

The minister said that, "in the context of the green belt releases proposed in your local plan, I am seeking further reassurance that the council will be making every possible effort to prioritise delivering redevelopment on previously developed land going forward".

Speaking last month, McVey said that "greenfield land" should be developed only in "the most exceptional circumstances". MHCLG later moved to clarify the comments.

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