Boles admits to being Confused About Safeguarded Land Next to Green Belt

Well of course as he gave such poor advice to the York MP on this issue a few months ago his reply on the same subject in the commons yesterday  to the same MP, as we previously pointed out on here, was something of a mea culpa

He said: “I have to confess that for several months at the beginning of my time in this post, I, too, was somewhat confused about whether it was ‘safeguarded for’ or ‘safeguarded from’. He makes a good point about the terminology being — it is not deliberate — rather baffling to people. ‘Safeguarded’ seems to suggest protection, rather than an allocation for future development needs”.

He stressed that local authorities “must act carefully and with evidence” when safeguarding sites and that safeguarding is “not mandatory and authorities should use it only if necessary”.

Boles said he would commit to “go away and look at the simple question of the terminology and whether there could be better wording”.

Of course if is safeguarded from now and safeguarded for later.   Growth management over the very long term to avoid unnecessary sprawl now. The term used to be ‘white land’ then ‘areas of strategic reserve’ so why not bring back ‘ areas of strategic reserve’ which is much clearer.

So in this commons case Boles had a go again at answering ethe question of how much safeguarded land York should leave – which Boles so spectacularly balls up in answering in the previous commons debate which we pointed out on here. His response was more measured.

“While we do want all communities to embrace growth nevertheless a vaulting ambition is not sufficient justification for putting some kind of a threat over protected land.

“Ambition – the desire to grow even faster than your neighbours – is not sufficient justification for putting those protections under threat.

“It is only if it is necessary that an authority should be considering the possibility of designating some safeguarded land.”

But of course it still does now answer the question on how many years beyond the plan period you need to set aside safeguarded strategic reserve land for.

Bole’s reply is interesting in that it reframes the question in two parts.  Firstly how quickly should a town grow and secondly once it has determined this how long it should safeguard areas within its inner green belt for.   It suggests that the need for growth may be an exceptional circumstance but need for growth much faster than your rivals may not be – sensible or otherwise the competition becomes competition through sprawl rather than competition through managed controlled growth where cities expand only when they have to – sensible.


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