In a recent article in Parliament’s in house magazine, ‘The House’, former Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis presented a candid perspective on the need to review and adapt Green Belt policy.
Brandon advocates reform, dismissing the notion that a ‘grey belt first’ strategy, focusing on disused areas, can single-handedly resolve the housing crisis; instead, he draws on the importance of balance, asserting that the right homes must be situated in the right places.
Central to Conservative values, as highlighted by Brandon, is the importance of community support in the process. Brandon proposes a unique approach: redirecting a % of profits from development on the metropolitan green belt, in the form of shares, to residents.
Shifting focus to the much-debated Section 106, Brandon proposes a departure from national level control, and advocates developers take a more active role in consulting local communities about their needs; this shift could ensure development benefits are more attuned to the specific requirements of the area.
Brandon suggests the Labour call for ‘grey belt’ and new towns overlooks densification, a sustainable form of development. “Building upwards”, as he describes, not only presents economic, environmental, and social opportunities but also aligns with the pressing need for carbon emission reduction through technological advancement.
The question remains whether Brandon’s ideals can be realised given the complexities of planning reform, and the fractious nature of the Parliamentary Conservative Party. While Brandon articulates ambitious solutions, the Conservatives find themselves at a political crossroads with individual MPs now suggesting policies that are too challenging for them to collectively deliver.