Leader underlines commitment to protecting green belt
Wolverhampton Council’s Leader has underlined his commitment to protecting the city’s green belt in the Wolverhampton Local Plan.
Councillor Ian Brookfield’s report at last night’s (Wednesday) Full Council meeting made the council’s position clear.
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 keeping as much of this green belt as possible is hugely important to our new 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 finally seen sense.
“We have always promoted a brownfield first approach to our Local Plan, so, I am delighted to announce - subject to 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 in February / March of 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 spring, and we will be asking Cabinet to consider a response to the NPPF consultation this February.
“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.”