§ Mr. Michael Latham
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether he will make a statement on the Minister for Planning and Local Government's meeting with the Chairman of the Standing Conference on London and South-East Regional Planning on 29th January;
(2) when the report on green belt land will be published.
§ Mr. John Silkin
I met the Chairman, Lord Nugent, and other representatives of the Standing Conference on London and South-East Regional Planning on 29th January to discuss the Government's policy for the Metropolitan green belt and to review progress on the exercise to identify 2,000 acres of land in the green belt which might be released for housing without damage to basic green belt policies.
I gave an assurance of the Government's full commitment to the concept of the Metropolitan green belt and belief in its continuing rôle in the further development of the South-East Region. There would be firm Government support for local planning authorities' resistance to development involving unacceptable encroachment on the green belt, bearing in mind that it was the Secretary of State's statutory duty to consider all planning appeals on their merits. The Government would continue to encourage long-term measures by local planning authorities to bring about improvements where the condition of green belt land was unsatisfactory, and to maintain and encourage agricultural, recreational and other acceptable uses of land in the green belt.347W
Lord Nugent informed me that the local authorities' search for suitable sites had resulted in identification of some 950 acres of land which they were prepared to see excluded from green belt protection; that a further 740 acres had been granted planning permission on appeal to the Secretary of State, since the exercise began; and that these permissions could lead to others. I told Lord Nugent that I wished to consider further the outcome of the exercise before publication of the report and suggested that a further meeting should be arranged. Lord Nugent accepted this suggestion and welcomed my assurances on the future of the green belt.