Keen to seize a place at the top table in the run up to elections the Greens are positioning themselves as the grassroots party of the left. They are aiming their policies at disgruntled Labour and Liberal Democrat voters, as well as influencing first-time voters, with 12% of 18-24 year olds saying they intend to vote Green.
They have received less media attention than Ukip, yet their continuing growth in the polls has prompted commentators to suggest the Green Party may well make an impact on the outcome of the election.
In the hope of playing a significant role in mainstream politics the Greens are watering down their radical credentials. This move to the centre conflicts with some of their more traditional policies, leading to wanting to have their granola cake and eat it too:
– They seek to protect the British countryside by promoting brownfield development. But they promote the principles commonly associated with Garden Cities, such as new integrated, self-sustainable communities with houses, infrastructure, pedestrian walkways and landscaping – which would need the green belt to be built on.
– They would make it difficult to demolish existing buildings in urban areas by requiring planning permission to be obtained for all demolition. But they call for tighter regulations on new build construction, making it harder to fill the housing gap.
– They want local areas to have control over planning decisions, but talk of opposing every new development on agricultural land or land outside of an urban area.
The Greens explicitly recognise the need for long-term housing and infrastructure provision, but achieving these outcomes would require them to reconcile a few conflicts in their policy. In the coming months the Greens will face further scrutiny and will need to provide more details on how their policy goals can be achieved.
When it comes to planning policy, they are a little green.