I am exceptionally proud of our greenbelt and I am determined to do my best to protect it from inappropriate developments. Indeed, this has been one of my key priorities for Cheadle ever since I was first elected.
As a member of the Communities and Local Government Committee, I contributed to a report on national planning policy which estimates there are nearly 49,000 hectares of brownfield land in England, of which around half is suitable for the development of new housing, enough for approximately 1 million homes to be built.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority is working on its own planning report; a spatial framework which aims to identify suitable sites for housing across the city region and as such, includes the borough of Stockport. I am concerned, however, that many of the potential sites for the Cheadle constituency are on the greenbelt land.
This is the reason why I campaigned against the 900 home development in Woodford and against another planning application to build on Chesters' Croft, which was recently refused.
However, there are still other applications under consideration, including one from the Seashell Trust which hopes to build 325 houses in Heald Green and Cheshire East Council's plans to build a growth village close to Cheadle Hulme. I have written to the Chief Executives of the respective Councils about these developments.
In the autumn of 2016, I launched a petition for residents to show their opposition to the plans in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework to build 8,000 homes on green belt land in Woodford, Heald Green and Cheadle Hulme. Thanks to over 3,500 people signing and making their feelings known, I am pleased to report that Stockport Council is currently running a 'call for Brownfield', to identify more suitable sites to build on in an effort to avoid the green belt.
Whilst I appreciate there is a need for more houses, development must be in the right places with the council prioritising brownfield sites before releasing valuable Green Belt. Green belt, once lost, is lost forever.
Whilst I do not want to speculate about the contents of the Budget, I know that the Treasury is aware of the strength of feeling surrounding this issue. I can assure you that I will be following the Chancellor's speech closely for any developments in this area. The Government are committed to allowing local authorities to determine the development of new homes through local plans, I would like to reassure you that steps have been taken to protect the Green Belt from inappropriate development.
The Housing White Paper, published earlier this year, emphasised the Government's continued commitment to protecting the Green Belt. Ministers want to amend and add to national policy to make it clear that: Green Belt boundaries should only be amended in exceptional circumstances, when local authorities can demonstrate they have fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting their identified housing requirements and where land is removed from the Green Belt, local policies should require the impact to be offset.
I am also pleased to note that the Government's commitment to ensuring the Green Belt enjoys protection against erosion from caravan and traveller sites.