How Essex councils feature in Green Belt-building table

Green... but for how long?

Our recent story (here) showing almost half a million new homes are targeted for land to be released from the Green Belt is particularly poignant in Essex, which hosts three of the top 10 Green Belt-building councils in the country.
A Local Government Chronicle article presents data from the Ministry of Communities, Housing & Local Government to highlight the main offenders.
The local authority building the greatest proportion of homes in the Green Belt in 2016-17 was Epping Forest District Council with a figure of 43 per cent.
In sixth position was Rochford District Council (36 per cent), while one place below was Brentwood Borough Council (33 per cent).
However, both Brentwood and Epping Forest councils challenged the figures, provided to the MHCLG by Ordnance Survey, saying they did not tally with those of their own planning departments.
Brentwood claimed that in fact just 14 per cent of new homes were built on Green Belt land, rather than the 33 per cent reported by the ministry.
LGC says it understands the reason for Epping Forest’s high percentage was down to regeneration of a brownfield site opposite an underground station inside the Green Belt.
An Epping Forest spokesman is quoted: “The Green Belt is extremely important to us and our planning policies are heavily geared towards its protection, which is in line with national policy.
“Previously developed sites and other sustainable sites within the Green Belt do come up from time to time.
“With so much demand for new homes and so little space outside the Green Belt, it is important to take a sensible approach to these sites when the opportunities arise.
“Going forward, the emerging Local Plan is proposing further Green Belt releases, including sites around Harlow which form part of the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town.”
A Rochford District Council spokesman, meanwhile, is reported as saying the authority had reallocated “in the region of one per cent of the council’s designated Green Belt land” to deliver homes and jobs.
“Rochford District Council is a proactive local planning authority which has always effectively planned for the future needs of its communities,” said the spokesman.