Voting for the Labour Party is your best defence against Green Belt development

Green Belt was created to save our precious green spaces and to stop uncontrolled urban sprawl. Its importance was understood by previous generations but very shortly it could be lost forever – to luxury housing development. This is completely unnecessary. There is no shortage of housing land in Leeds – there is enough outside of the Green Belt to last for decades, most of it with planning permission already approved.

Under current planning law, developers can deliberately delay building on these ‘brownfield’ sites in order to pressurise Councils to release Green Belt for development.

In a fair world, housing would be built on brownfield sites, that was truly affordable and tackle the real housing crisis. But we don’t live in a just world, we live in a Conservative one, where laws are made to suit the few. Developers’ interests lie in making the maximum profit and this means building luxury houses on Green Belt, and community green spaces, while the rest of the city cries out for regeneration.

A developers’ charter

This madness results from the planning law introduced by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition – the very parties that are now claiming to be the guardians of the Green Belt. The National Trust has called the law ‘a developers charter’ since it was designed to tip the planning balance in favour of the developers and away from Local Authorities, away from local concerns.

The law is working as intended, making communities almost defenceless in the face of the greed of the developers.

Leeds City Council

The Council has worked within planning laws imposed by the Tories and Lib Dems – but their approach has angered many people. In the face of the law, many people believe that the Council have paid no regard to the views of local people. It doesn’t help anyone to have a Council perceived as the Enemy of the Green Belt. Local Labour Party activists do not shy away from calling this out and neither do I. The Labour movement has always fought for the rights of ordinary people to benefit from and enjoy the countryside and green spaces.

There are mitigating circumstances; the law makes it difficult and expensive to oppose the developers in court. If the Council fought the developers and lost then they would face heavy costs and would be castigated by the same Tory & Lib Dem Councillors who claim to be the guardians of the Green Belt but it is the Conservative law that put us in this predicament.

In short, developers are allowed to ride rough-shod over community priorities. However, the housing target set by the Council and agreed by a Government inspector is too high. The target will not be implemented in full but the high number provides justification to release Green Belt land to wealthy developers.

Make no mistake, the Conservatives’ planning law, even with their recent changes, allows the Green Belt to be built on and will not prevent urban sprawl.

My promise to you

Our area is defined by its Green Belt and the beautiful landscapes from which we all benefit. This could soon be lost forever and I share the anger and consternation of the residents.

I believe passionately that the Green Belt must be preserved, as does the Labour Party. Our best chance to save our Green Belt it is to elect a Labour government that will reform the law to put more control back with communities. I have always believed that the Leeds housing target is excessive, should be reduced significantly and that Green Belt should be removed from the housing plans.

If elected, an immediate priority will be to engage with the action groups and community bodies of Pudsey, Horsforth & Aireborough. I promise to work with you and for you, taking your issues to the Council Executive at Leeds Civic Hall and I will ensure that your voices are heard and our communities are put at the heart of our local plan. I promise that I will do everything in my power to save our Green Belt.

As a Labour MP with a genuine commitment to the preservation of the Green Belt, I will be in a far stronger position to negotiate with the Council than a Conservative MP, especially one who voted for the damaging planning law and now tries to place all the blame on the Council.

Under a Labour government, there will be no need for local community Green Belt action groups.

Vote Ian McCargo to put communities at the heart of the planning process, not the disposal end of it.

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