Local Group Name - Campaign to Protect Rural England

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Government Green Belt pledge appears to be cracking.

Monday, 03 September 2012 13:02

Chancellor George Osborne’s comment today that he would like to see more ‘imaginative’ thinking by planning authorities and allow more building on Green Belt land is at odds with a previous Government pledge to protect it,  along with the positive Green Belt campaigning of other ministers and coalition MPs.

Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said; “George Osborne could be listening to the same bad advice that Treasury officials gave to Gordon Brown. The Government has just got its new planning reforms in place, which they said would put local people at the heart of planning. The Chancellor should wait for these changes to bed-in before plotting further change."

Building on the Green Belt is often justified by claiming that there is a shortage of other land available for development, such as previously developed ‘brownfield’ land. However, Government figures show that the amount of brownfield land becoming available for re-development is far outstripping the rate at which it is being used and there is enough available for 1.5 million new homes.

Shaun Spiers continued; “Research last year by CPRE, The National Trust  and the RSPB established that it is not the planning system that is holding back economic growth. It is vital that the Government ensures we have ‘smart growth’, which focuses investment and development within existing urban areas, rather than permitting the unnecessary loss of Green Belt."


Green Belt facts:

  • England’s Green Belts covers 1,619,835 hectares (6254 square miles), a total of 12.4 per cent of England’s total landscape.
  • Green Belts include: 250,000 hectares (ha) of our finest farmland; 89,000 ha of sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs); and 220,000 ha of broadleaf / mixed woodland.
  • Green Belts contain 41% of the area covered by England’s Community Forests.
  • The introduction of Green Belts was the culmination of years of campaigning by CPRE following our establishment in 1926. The first Green Belt was around London and was proposed in Patrick Abercrombie’s 1944 Greater London Plan, made possible by the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, and finalised in 1958.
  • Green Belts are a planning policy designation with five primary purposes: to stop urban sprawl; prevent ‘coalescence’ (or joining together) of settlements; safeguard the countryside from encroachment; protect the setting of historic towns; and encourage urban regeneration and the reuse of brownfield land.
  • Most forms of development are classed as ‘inappropriate’ in the Green Belt. Furthermore, the NPPF ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ does not apply in Green Belt areas.
  • In England there is sufficient brownfield land available and suitable for 1,494,070 new dwellings, and much more on top of this suitable for business or industrial development. In Northern regions (the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East) there is enough brownfield land for over 444,000 new homes. Even in the South East, where housing demand is highest, land supply outpaces demand with one quarter (26 per cent) of suitable brownfield plots going unused.

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