Siobhain McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, is running a brave campaign to build homes on the non-green parts of the often poorly-named Green Belt. At a Westminster meeting in Tuesday, she risked the ire of the Labour whips by sneaking out of one of the votes on the Lords;’ amendments to the Brexit Bill to make the case for more homes.
She urged her audience not to prioritize public housing, social housing, shared housing, private housing, or any other type of housing. What is needed, she said, is MORE housing. She showed pictures of land in her constituency denied planning permission for new housing because it is within the “green” belt. The pictures showed not rolling fields and meadows, but abandoned factories and disused car parks, rotting eyesores that are sacrosanct because they are “green.”
What she says underlines the case that several commentators have made to reclassify land within the Green Belt so that the parts we think of as green – meadows and woods – are labelled as such, and the non-green parts are identified for what they are. She quoted figures to show that building homes on such land within 10 minutes of a station could see 1m new homes built without significant environmental degradation.
She outlined cases of her constituents forced to live in low-quality “temporary” accommodation because the rules prevent new homes being built to house them properly.
This is an easy no-brainer. It is doubtful that NIMBYs will chain themselves to the railings of abandoned factories warehouses to thwart new house-building. It’s a win-win for tomorrow’s would-be home-owners. Her campaign deserves support; and the time to build is now.