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Julian Sturdy - Strong Voice for York Outer

Julian Sturdy

Member of Parliament for York Outer

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Julian Calls on Government to Give Local Communities Control of Green Belts

July 15, 2014

Alongside cross-party parliamentary colleagues, Julian has published a report calling on the Government to hand over control of Britain’s Green Belts from local authorities to local communities.

The report, produced by the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Green Belt, of which Mr Sturdy is a Vice-Chair and entitled ‘Green Belts: A Local Way Forward for the Twenty First Century’ calls on the Government to enhance the protections afforded to Green Belt land and further the cause of localism by handing over power and decision making on development in protected areas to community groups and parish councils.

It is hoped that by handing down power, the report reads, it “would encourage more communities to become involved with neighbourhood planning [and] allow for greater understanding of what should be protected for the future”. At the same time, it would encourage communities, who already accept the need for housing, to plan positively for development of a scale and in locations that are considered suitable and are popular with the community as a whole. This would be in stark contrast to the current ‘top-down’ approach in which local councils impose development obligations on local communities. Indeed, the report reads “an overwhelming feature of the evidence received by the group was the lack of confidence in the planning process co-ordinated by local authorities”.

Commenting, Julian said:

“The protections afforded to Green Belts in national planning policy are already very strong. However, my experience of the City of York Council’s abuse of its planning powers to promote unsustainable and inappropriate development on York’s Green Belt has brought me to the conclusion that more must be done to safeguard our precious green lands. I’ve found that several colleagues on the backbenches of both sides of the House share my concerns and I’m glad that we’ve come together to produce this extensive report.

“Community-led planning is already on the rise, with over 1000 Neighbourhood Plans currently being drawn up in the UK, including in villages like Copmanthorpe and the Poppletons. However, I want a more robust and meaningful system of Neighbourhood Planning, where the hard work put in by the community pays off with real power to decide where, when and how much development should take place in their area. I really hope our report puts pressure on the Government to strengthen and extend localism in the planning system and provides a basis for discussion about potential further planning reforms as all parties continue to work on their manifestos.

“I must kindly thank all those constituents and York residents who submitted their views to our call for evidence. We found them all incredibly helpful in drafting the report.”

Pictured: Julian raising concerns over the greenbelt in Parliament.

N. B. The report can be accessed in full from http://appggreenbelt.wordpress.com/