At this week’s Cabinet meeting, our Leader , Councillor Ian Brookfield, reaffirmed his commitment to protecting our precious green spaces, insisting that not one blade of grass from the green belt will be touched, after ‘doubling down’ on the Labour Group’s commitment to protect the city’s green lungs in the Wolverhampton Local Plan.
Councillor Ian Brookfield has made the council’s position clear after the latest report outlining the next steps with the plan was approved by Cabinet.
It follows a recent announcement by Government of changes to national planning policy, subject to a public consultation period.
The most significant of these proposed changes is that local authorities preparing Local Plans will not be required to review and alter green belt boundaries to meet housing need for their Plan.
Councillor Brookfield said: “Only 11% of land in Wolverhampton is green belt and not one blade of grass in it will be touched as we double down on our commitment to protect it as part of our climate strategy and supporting our carbon neutral challenge.
“Up until now Government planning policy would not permit us to leave green belt land alone – we had to consider it and indeed use it to meet housing targets and, may I add, totally unrealistic housing targets laid down by Government – thankfully, the Government has seen sense.
“We have always promoted a brownfield first approach to our Local Plan so, subject to further approvals, we intend to bring forward a Wolverhampton Local Plan with no green belt sites at all allocated for development.”
The Leader also provided an update on the process for progressing the Wolverhampton Local Plan.
He added: “Following the decision of Dudley Council to withdraw from the Black Country Plan, this council is fully committed to preparing an up to date Local Plan for our City.
“We brought in a new Local Development Scheme in October last year which committed the council to an ambitious but realistic programme to adopt a Wolverhampton Local Plan.
“We have been reviewing the responses made to the Wolverhampton elements of the Black Country Plan and updating the evidence to support the Plan’s policies as part of this process.
“We anticipated consulting on the Wolverhampton Plan early this year – but as a prudent and responsible council, we need to consider the full implications of the final version of the National Planning Policy Framework before we progress the Wolverhampton Local Plan.
“This means we will not be consulting on the Local Plan until after the new national planning policy framework is published by the Government in the spring.
“Up to now potential sites for development have been earmarked and during that process our focus has very much been on selecting sites available within the urban area and minimising the impact on the green belt and the environment by not including sites like the Seven Cornfields.
“Our focus is on developing brownfield sites, which we have an excellent track record in doing when funding is available to remediate the land, such as Bilston Urban Village, Springfield Campus and Canalside.
“The Wolverhampton Local Plan will provide a vibrant mixed use city centre while enabling new housing and employment opportunities on brownfield sites across the city, supporting local centres and strengthening the local economy.”