Lib Dem policy on greenbelt and affordable homes

The surrounding parishes of Bromsgrove are full of greenbelt, and there is a lot of pressure for affordable homes, as Bromsgrove is the 2nd most expensive area for homes in the West Midlands after Solihull. A challenge for policy makers, and specific planning decisions are generally a local authorities decision not one for local MP.

On a personal note though I would like to see more joined up planning decisions from the authorities, parish councils and residents associations across the whole District, not just for each specific development.

My argument for that is development plans are decided piecemeal which makes for easier objections and no proper planning of where /which sites are best for development. Poor planning can adversely affect developments, such as the Oakalls estate in Bromgrove which has 700 homes, but no local shop or community facilities and only now 10 years after being established a bus service (though one at 1 an hour…).

Specific to greenbelt protections though the Liberal Democrats would:

  • Scrap Labour’s Planning Act and return decision making to local people, scrapping the Infrastructure Planning Commission and giving people the right to appeal against decisions in favour of development. We will create a new designation to protect green areas of particular importance or value to the community. We will define gardens as Greenfield sites in planning law so that they cannot so easily be built over.
  • Rebalance VAT on new build and repair on an overall revenue neutral basis. Currently new build properties incur no VAT, but refurbishments of existing properties do. There are over 70k empty or derelict homes in the West Midlands (700k nationwide) reducing VAT on refurbishment and placing it on new builds will bring a significant proportion of derelict properties back into use. This will reduce the pressure to build homes on greenbelt and regenerate urban areas nationwide.

Obviously these measures are not enough by themselves, for affordable homes, but that’s why it’s even more important for local authorities to work together with local people strategically on this (emotive) issue.

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