Spat over building on greenfield sites continues
Nick Boles today embroiled himself in renewed spat with countryside campaigners over the need to build homes on land greenfield sites.
The planning minister locked horns with Shaun Spires, chief executive at the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, stating its research showing there is enough brownfield land to build 1.5 million homes was ‘entirely untrue’.
Speaking in a fringe session at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Boles said: ‘I am afraid [Mr Spires’] figure is simply incorrect. It’s an old figure based on very bad research that is entirely untrue. There is not enough brownfield land to build all the homes we need.’
The minister, who has previously riled campaigners by arguing developers should be able to build on greenfield sites, said there was a need to ‘move to a situation where we were just a little more relaxed about making land available’ for development – in some cases not just brownfield sites.
Mr Spires rejected criticisms of the research and told Inside Housing that the figures were robust, and came from a company called Green Balance, which does research for government departments.
‘I am very surprised to hear the minister say that,’ said Mr Spires. ‘If he had a problem with the research then he should have raised it much sooner. It was carried out by a very reputable organisation.’
The argument was triggered by a debate over whether or not there is a need to introduce a minimum space standard. There is currently a consultation underway by Mr Boles’ department to examine whether or not to introduce a national minimum space standard as part of a much larger review of housing standards.
Mr Boles appeared not to support a minimum space standard on the grounds it inhibits market forces, instead arguing that space was only a problem because land was so constrained.
The minister suggested this could be solved by building outside of brownfield sites.
‘We should not be surprised we build the smallest homes in Europe because we have the highest development land prices in Europe. And why do we have the highest development land prices anywhere in Europe? It’s because we allow so little land to be made available for development.
He added: ‘If we don’t provide enough land then we will go on building tiny houses that everybody hates. If we can provide a bit more land we will still have 90 to 92 per of the English countryside entirely without any development, and much happier families.’
Spat over building on greenfield sites continues | News | Inside Housing
Green Balance |
See also: What CPRE head thinks of Boles’ idea of building on 10% of the countryside | Sidmouth Independent News