Mole Valley District Council’s announcement that it will focus new housing development towards urban areas and away from the Green Belt should be an example to other local councils around Surrey, according to CPRE.
CPRE Surrey branch director Andy Smith said: “We welcome the news that MVDC has halted its Green Belt review and will instead focus on meeting the vast majority of the district’s housing needs through the re-development of brownfield sites. This shift in MVDC’s approach, which removes the immediate threat to Green Belt land around Leatherhead, Dorking and the villages, is clearly a reflection of the change in tone of Government policy, as well as reflecting the overwhelming local opposition here in the district to any loss of Green Belt protection. We hope that other district and borough councils around Surrey will follow Mole Valley’s lead by excluding the Green Belt in their districts from potential development and by insisting on lower housing numbers.”
He added: “Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has made clear that protection of the Green Belt must be paramount when councils are formulating their local plans and that the Green Belt is a legitimate constraint on development. For too long we have had mixed messages from the Government, which has at times suggested that Surrey and the South East should accommodate a huge amount of new development irrespective of the damage this does to our countryside and green spaces – but the latest planning guidance from Eric Pickles’ department provides much-need clarification.
“The bottom line is that housing numbers can no longer be used to justify shrinking of the Green Belt. Mole Valley councillors seem have accepted this, and they have decided to ‘go back to the drawing board’ with their Housing & Travellers’ Sites Plan, thus removing the threat to our Green Belt in this district. Will other local councils follow this example?”