The leader of the Labour Party reassured residents in the borough and across Greater Manchester over the future of its Green Belt despite a plan to allow the construction of homes under certain circumstances. 

Keir Starmer made the assurances during an exclusive interview with The Messenger on May 18.

A day earlier, the leader of the opposition spoke at the British Chambers of Commerce Global Annual Conference, where he told those in attendance he aims to "back the builders, not the blockers" if the Labour Party comes into power at a general election.

Sir Keir said the "dream of home ownership" is dead and he suggested a plan to bring it back to life, with an increase in powers for local authorities to choose local areas for the construction of homes, including on the Green Belt under certain circumstances.

But he stressed this does not mean a loss of protection for the borough's most beautiful countryside.

He told The Messenger: "I want to protect the Green Belt and our countryside. There is fantastic countryside across the UK and fantastic countryside across Greater Manchester as I know first hand. 

"This is not about taking away any protection. It is about delivering the dream of home ownership because for people across Greater Manchester, and for younger people in particular, getting on the housing ladder is nigh on impossible."

READ MORE: Keir Starmer addresses rumours of tension with Andy Burnham.

Sir Keir explained the development of the Green Belt is not new but it needs to be done in an 'acceptable' and 'sensible' way.

He said: "We build on the Green Belt at the moment but we need to build on those bits which aren't particularly pleasurable.

"An example I was using on Wednesday is, in some parts of the country, homes are built on playing fields rather than car parks because the car parks are in the Green Belt. I don't think it's sensible. 

"The way to make sure there isn’t this tension is to increase powers for local areas to choose where housing is because, at the moment, developers and landowners tend to choose where housing is. 

"If local areas have more of a say, according to local needs, then they know well where is acceptable and sensible to build housing rather than the fights we have at the moment."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.