Weston MP takes Build Up, Not Out campaign to London
By Carol_Deacon | Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 16:27
Weston MP John Penrose's campaign for urban renewal gained support in the House of Commons this week.
The former architecture and heritage minister spoke out during a parliamentary debate to save high streets and green fields and won the support from the minister for Sustainable Development & Housing Don Foster
Mr Penrose called on the minister to help local communities preserve the best and most beautiful parts of their town and cityscapes for future generations.
He wants it made easier to regenerate town centres by building homes above shops.
The move would reinvigorate hard-pressed high streets struggling to cope with competition from out-of-town shopping centres and online retailing.
It would also offer crucial new sites for residential building to solve the country's severe housing shortage and reduce pressure to develop green field sites.
The housing crisis has been caused by 'years and years of under-building, and that if we are not careful and if we do not do something about the situation relatively quickly we face the prospect of owner-occupation being something that will fairly rapidly become just the preserve of the rich' he told fellow MPs.
Mr Penrose said: "Several hundred thousand homes will have to be built every year for several years, in order to catch up with the backlog.
"Given the levels of building needed to match current and expected demand, the pressure on finding sites and space will be intense.
"Even if we use all the brownfield sites that are available, it is true that if we do not find other spaces to build on, the pressure on our green fields will inevitably grow."
Together with MPs from all sides, Don Foster praised John Penrose for securing the debate and agreed to said that many of the powers to implement the proposals are already in place but rarely applied.
Mr Foster said "I assure him that we will look at the issues raised in the debate.
"We will at least help to disseminate the information available more widely, and if changes are needed, we will consider them".
Afterwards, John Penrose said: "I'm delighted by the minister's warm reaction.
"If we build up, rather than out, we can save green fields and breathe new life into High Streets too.
"Our towns and cities would become prettier places to live and work, full of Parisian-style boulevards with a vibrant mix of shops, restaurants, galleries, offices and apartments.
"I shall be watching closely to make sure the minister's commitment to brief local councils and community groups on how to implement this approach is delivered quickly, so work can get underway."