I strongly believe that our fields, woodlands and countryside should be protected against excessive development. These are special areas of our country that we have a right to enjoy and pass on to future generations. To give you some reassurance, latest statistics show that the level of Green Belt development is at its lowest rate since modern records began in 1989.
But I recognise that more homes need to be delivered to meet the demands of our increasing population. The previous Labour Government did little to address the housing shortage and left this country with the lowest levels of housebuilding since the 1920's. This Government, in contrast, has delivered over 700,000 homes in the last 6 years, and priority is now being given to the development of brownfield sites.
There are several brownfield and former industrial sites in the constituency that are in need of development and I am encouraging all interested parties to make sure development happens there before building on green sites.
However, it is also important that sites with existing planning permission are built out. Under-delivery creates uncertainty for communities and discourages young families from staying in the area. One proposal to address under-delivery is to release further land following a Housing Delivery Test. The test aims to ensure delivery of homes against targets in local planning documents and will assess how accurate authorities have been in anticipating delivery of planned growth. Where significant under delivery is identified, measures will be triggered to bridge the gap, which may involve the release of additional sites in sustainable locations, including new settlements.
This would ensure that where developers don't deliver, councils and local people can work together to deliver the homes that their area needs. Work is also being undertaken to make sure that land that has been bought but not yet used for development (ie banked lands) is actually used for housebuilding.