Rishi Sunak has insisted he will “make sure our green spaces are protected” and is standing by his vow not to build on the green belt. Speaking to hacks on the long flight to Japan this morning, the PM dismissed the idea of laying any bricks where “local communities” – NIMBYs – don’t want them:
“I was very clear over the summer, I wanted to make sure our green spaces are protected. I think that is what local communities want. At the same time, we have empowered local communities with local plans. What I find is that it’s not necessarily an opposition to housing itself, it’s how and where exactly it is done and the infrastructure that comes alongside it.”
It’s been just two days since Michael Gove told NatCon “there simply aren’t enough homes in this country“. Sir Keir, meanwhile, is planting his stake in the ground on housebuilding, promising to reintroduce regional targets and even to build on the green belt where “appropriate“. Some brave words, although Starmer’s made plenty of promises before….
Speaking last night at the IEA’s £50,000 Breakthrough Prize awards ceremony, Jacob Rees Mogg launched a blistering attack on the green belt, describing it as a “corset” that restricts “our housing market to breathe by at least 25%.” For an MP whose seat is largely green belt land to say this shows that one of Britain’s sacred political cows might be beginning to become a bit less sacred.
The prize was won by Ben Clements, who proposed a ‘Land Purchase Act’ – a market-based policy that centres on how swathes of public land can be made available for people to build homes according to their own choice and preference. Individuals building houses on the bits of the green belt that are state-owned seems preferable to corporations building unimaginative estates. It is also an easier political sell to NIMBYs…