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Labour can build homes and protect green spaces, says Starmer

By deliar
12th October 2023

CPRE London has welcomed Labour’s pledge to prioritise ‘brownfield’ sites for development

Labour leader Keir Starmer set out the party’s plans for building new homes at its conference in October, promising to look first at ‘brownfield’ sites.

CPRE London welcomes this approach, which could provide affordable housing across London without damaging surrounding countryside. Protecting this space is vital for the wellbeing of millions of Londoners.

In his speech, Starmer denied the party planned to ‘tear up green belt’, saying that Labour had created it in the first place.

‘No party fights harder for the environment.’

He vowed to take on ‘land bankers’ who sat on development sites waiting for rents to rise, and insisted that the party would look to build on ‘disused car parks and dreary wasteland.’

However, we challenge the idea that solutions could include spaces such as scrubland within protected Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land, not least because scrubland can offer a rich habitat for wildlife, increasing biodiversity.

Commenting on Keir Starmer’s speech, CPRE London director Anna Taylor said she welcomed Labour’s brownfield-first approach.

‘It was good to see Keir Starmer envisioning cities of the future with protected green spaces at their heart.

‘CPRE data show that brownfield land can provide room for 1.2 million new homes, and we should use this untapped potential before looking to build in the green belt.

‘The Green Belt is essential to combat the nature and climate crisis. While sustainable development on brownfield land in the Green Belt could be part of the solution, we challenge the idea that ‘grey’ belt land should include areas of scrubland.

‘Scrubland is in fact also a really valuable habitat. These sites could perhaps be further enhanced to support natural solutions to the climate crisis, including through increasing tree cover.  However, it is important to recognise we need to have a range of habitats for our native animals and plants to thrive.’