Hunt and housing
Tristram Hunt, who is seeking selection as a Labour MP, agrees with the Tory Party that building on the green belt would be a 'retrograde step'.
It's better than, say, a Will Hutton article in that he spends a bit more time writing about the historical development of the green belt, and hence has less space for his musings on current policy challenges, but on the basis of this and his other columns on housing policy, his selection as a Labour candidate would, most definitely, be a retrograde step. Given that he is seeking to become Bob Wareing's successor, this is quite an achievement.
There is a difference between building on sections of the green belt which are scrubland, and which have been identified as suitable sites to build sustainable housing developments, and 'concreting over the counties'. The housing crisis can't be solved solely by building on brownfield sites, and there are choices to be made. If the priority is to meet the massive need for more and better housing, then as well as new 'eco-towns' and getting private developers to build on land which they have acquired, local councils and housing associations need to be able to build social housing on sites which they have identified, some of which are in the green belt.
It's often said that there is a consensus now that building more homes needs to be a top priority. But as well as the people who pretend that the problems are caused by how we allocate social housing, there are people like Hunt who claim to support the aim of more housing, but won't support the means needed.