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Greg Mulholland

Protecting green spaces

I am passionate supporter of protecting local green spaces and have continuously campaigned to keep these areas free from development, instead promoting development on brownfield sites.

In 2012, I tabled a Parliamentary Motion calling for protection of the greenbelt. I have called on the Government to reinstate its commitment to maintaining greenbelt controls. This was in response to reports that the Government was planning to speed up planning decisions and make development possible on greenbelt land if certain conditions were met.

I have campaigned strongly against attempts to develop on greenbelt areas in Leeds North West. Rather than building on these sites, the Government should encourage building on the many brownfield sites available, or simply bring unused homes back into use.

I have fought against the move by the Labour-run city council to bring green areas of North Leeds into planning and development plans. The Local Development Framework sets out the use of land for commercial, residential and industrial development across the city and will guide building work over the next few years. The council proposal included greenbelt areas in Pool, Yeadon, Otley, Bramhope and Adel. Understandably, local residents showed deep concerns and anger at these plans. It has been shown that the council created false projections for the amount of houses they needed to develop in these plans. Estimates were based on outdated figures, yet the council have refused to reconsider housing plans.

There is a need for local affordable housing and more social housing, but expensive houses build in desirable greenbelt areas will not help struggling families looking to buy a home or move to a less crowded home. I have written to Leeds City Council asking that they reconsider their controversial plans, and have also contacted local parish councils to secure their support against greenbelt development.

In 2014, I welcomed several key decisions to reject planning applications in green areas. In Bramhope, 380 planned new houses were scrapped because they did not deliver affordable housing options, nor did they respect the green surroundings of the area. Similarly, an application to develop a greenfield site in Adel has rightfully been denied because of the strain it would have placed on local infrastructure.

Along Victoria Road one of the only green spaces in Headingley has been subject to a planning application to build a supermarket and more housing. This space was previously protected as playing fields for the Leeds Girls High School, and following the closure of the school the Hyde Park Olympic Legacy group formed in 2012 to campaign to save the green space for future generations. Unfortunately, the council removed the Asset of Community Value status from the site, which was an extremely disappointing and worrying decision. Subsequently, developments have proceeded on this valuable site.

Alternative developments on brownfield sites will not only be cost-efficient, but also energy-efficient as they will minimise the need to travel. We can create local communities without compromising green spaces.

Earlier this year, I published a manifesto setting out planning reforms the Government must look into in order to give communities a stronger, and fairer, say in the development of their neighbourhood. In addition to this, at the end of the last Parliamentary session I had the opportunity to table a Bill. My Bill, the National Planning Policy Framework (Community Involvement) Bill, would have introduced a number of changes to the current legislation. It would have provided local communities with a real say over proposals in their community. You can read more about this here.

Just like many residents, I feel very strongly about the issue of green belt development and is campaigning to secure the future of Leeds' green spaces. In addition to the work being done locally, I have made calls in Parliament and of the Government, to conduct a review of road safety legislation in order to provide Local Authorities with more power to take action before accidents happen, rather than after. This sort of pro-active action saves lives and is not something that we should be ignoring.