COUNCILS in the South-East are authorizing development on green belt sites in a bid to meet ambitious targets for new homes in the region.
Milton Keynes Council has been named by countryside campaign group the CPRE as one of the worst-performing councils in the country at ‘recycling’ land. According to the study, which was published this week, just 13 per cent of new developments in the council’s area were built on ‘brownfield’ sites – the rest were on green land.
Dr Lucas, Green Party Principal Speaker and MEP for Milton Keynes, said: “This is completely unacceptable: green spaces in the South-East are vanishing before our very eyes thanks to the failure of planners – not just in Milton Keynes but across the region - to restrict development to brownfield sites and converting existing buildings.”
The Government's national target is for at least 60 per cent of all new homes to be provided through building on brownfield land or by converting existing buildings.
Dr Lucas added: "The Government’s plans to concrete over the countryside with new runways and half a million new homes in the South East represent a severe threat to our green spaces.
“This study shows how poorly equipped many councils in the region are to limit the impact of development on local residents. It is especially worrying that Milton Keynes and Ashford – two of the Government’s preferred towns earmarked for massive expansion – are amongst the worst performing councils in the country.”
Other councils in Dr Lucas’s South-East England region singled out for criticism included Ashford, which only built 33 per cent of new developments on brownfield land, and Eastbourne, which only managed 30 per cent. Crawley was the only town whose record – 92 per cent of developments built on brownfield land – was praised.
South Buckinghamshire and Mole Valley councils were slammed for allowing development at low densities, well below the Government planning guidance of 30 dwelling per hectare. Mole Valley (in Surrey) managed just 17 dwellings per hectare, South Buckinghamshire only 16.