If you thought the Green Belt was safe, you might want to think again
Anyone who believed Green Belt designation might mean land was safe from development would appear to be sadly misguided if CPRE analysis is anything to go by.
This organisation’s figures reveal that almost half a million new homes are targeted for land to be released from the Green Belt – and very few of those will be classed as genuinely affordable.
Our analysis by the charity revealed that last year 72 per cent of the homes built on greenfield land within the Green Belt could not be classed as affordable under the government’s own definition.
That depressing figure is set to rise to 78 per cent for the 460,000 homes planned for land due to be released from the Green Belt, according to CPRE’S State of the Green Belt report.
Tom Fyans, CPRE director of campaigns and policy, said: “We are being sold a lie by many developers. As they sell off and gobble up the Green Belt to build low-density, unaffordable housing, young families go on struggling to afford a place to live.
“The affordable-housing crisis must be addressed with increasing urgency while acknowledging that, far from providing the solution, building on the Green Belt only serves to entrench the issue.
“The government is failing in its commitment to protect the Green Belt – it is being eroded at an alarming rate.
“But it is essential, if the Green Belt is to fulfil its main purposes and provide 30 million of us with access to the benefits of the countryside, that the redevelopment of brownfield land is prioritised, and Green Belt protection strengthened.”
The charity argued that brownfield land, which has previously been used for housing or industrial development, could accommodate more than one million homes in England.
Local authorities with Green Belt land have enough brownfield sites for more than 720,000 homes, says the CPRE report.
The government has, however, defended its position on the Green Belt. A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We are clear that building the homes our country needs does not mean tearing up our countryside.
“Last year the number of new homes built was the highest in a decade, and only 0.02 per cent of the Green Belt was developed for residential use.
“We are adding more certainty to the planning system and our new planning rulebook strengthens national protections for the Green Belt.”
As well as a genuine ‘brownfield first’ approach to development, CPRE is urging the government to:
- Retain its commitment to protect the Green Belt by establishing long-term boundaries
- Halt speculative development in the Green Belt
- Develop clear guidance for local authorities on housing requirements to protect designated land
- Support the creation of new Green Belts where local authorities have established a clear need for them