Redbridge Council leader responds to minister’s mission to protect green belt

File photo dated 05/01/15 of Business Secretary Sajid Javid, who has urged phone provider O2 to &quo

File photo dated 05/01/15 of Business Secretary Sajid Javid, who has urged phone provider O2 to "sort it out" after a flood of complaints from people who had lost the signal on their mobile telephones. - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The council leader has branded a minister’s comments about not needing to build on the green belt “unhelpful”.

Jas Athwal, leader of the Redbridge Labour Group

Jas Athwal, leader of the Redbridge Labour Group - Credit: Archant

Newly-appointed secretary of state for business, innovation and skills Sajid Javid made the comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today programe on Friday.

He said: “There’s no need to build on the green belt – there’s plenty of land that’s not green belt that we can build on that is suitable for housing and we need to get on with it. We’re creating a register of brownfield sites around the country that are suitable for housebuilding.

“What we’re going to do now is go further and say that we will zone them for housing development – that means that those homes can get built a lot quicker.”

Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said the borough’s housing need would still not be met with brownfield sites alone, in light of Oakfield Playing Fields, Forest Road, Barkingside, being earmarked for development.

“Mr Javid needs to be mindful of the unique characteristics of each area,” he said.

“He obviously wants to make a mark but he needs to look at the population growth of Redbridge – it has to be managed.”

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The council leader said that the borough had more than 7,000 households in housing need in March.

Redbridge Council has looked at about 150 brownfield sites.

Commenting on the housing target set by Boris Johnson the leader added: “It’s the left hand not being in kilter with the right hand.”

Oakfields campaigners Kevin Page, of the London Green Belt Council, and Aldborough Hatch Defence Association chairman Ron Jeffries welcomed Mr Javid’s comments.

Mr Jeffries said: “We have been saying it for some years, for we are aware that there are many brownfield sites in Redbridge that cry out for redevelopment.”

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