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When the greenfield hits the fan

When Tony Blair came to power, he promised that Labour would have three priorities:

‘education, education, education’.

Twenty-five years later, our new Prime Minister has a new slogan: “brownfield, brownfield, brownfield”.

At his very first Prime Minister’s Questions, Wendy Morton MP (Conservative) asked: “We are at risk of 8,000 new homes being dumped in the constituency. Will my Right Honourable Friend use this Prime Minister’s question as an opportunity to reaffirm the government’s commitment to protecting the Green Belt and adopting a really rigorous ‘brownfield first’ policy?”

The PM replied: “I can indeed give my Right Hon. Friend that assurance. She is absolutely right: we must protect our green belt and we are adopting a ‘brownfield first’ strategy…it is important that we build those homes in the right places.”

Now if I remember correctly, this brownfield concept first has been around since God was a boy and still, we have a housing crisis.

I then caught up with some reading on my bedside table (let’s be honest, politics is so dull now, we have to read something to pass the time) and found the most interesting report by Lichfields entitled: “Banking on Brownfield – Can previously-developed land supply enough homes where they are needed?”. (click on this link to read it, you really MUST: Banking on brownfield).

It is a most insightful read and on page 3 of this report, there is visual representation of the amount of brownfield land available by region compared to the housing need.

Now, this really brought the message home. Every councillor on a planning committee needs to see this. And then a copy needs to go to Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove, Lucy Frazer (the new housing minister in case you missed it) and every MP.

There simply isn’t enough brownfield land in the country to meet our housing need.

Now with the country in dire financial straits, and as we head into the next election, a good slogan should be ABBA’s: Money, money, money.

Have a good weekend.


Cartoon by Aongus Collins