Green belt development 'not path to economic growth'

Countryside The CPRE claims about 1,000 hectares of green space is earmarked for new housing and industrial areas

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Building on green belt land "is not the path to lasting economic prosperity", countryside campaigners have warned the government.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has claimed countryside around English towns and cities is threatened by bids to build about 81,000 homes.

Recent changes to the planning system have prompted concerns that protection for the green belt will be weakened.

A government spokesman said it was committed to protecting green spaces.

The CPRE has suggested that current proposals, which are either out for consultation, submitted for planning permission or have been approved, would cover an area of unspoilt countryside the size of Slough in Berkshire.

Start Quote

Ministers have consistently maintained that they value the green belt - now is the time to put these words into action”

End Quote Paul Milner Senior planning officer for the CPRE

These plans include the expansion of Birmingham Airport, proposals for three freight terminals, an open cast coal mine in Nottinghamshire and a hotel and golf course in Surrey.

'False promise'

The campaign group added that about 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of land was earmarked for business parks and housing developments.

CPRE senior planning officer Paul Miner said the government should look to regenerate urban areas rather than build on unspoilt green space.

"It [the green belt] helps regenerate our cities and stops them sprawling into rural areas. As a result no-one is ever too far from true, green English countryside.

"In times of economic slowdown, politicians can sometimes be tempted by the false promise of an easy construction boom. But destroying the countryside is not the path to lasting economic prosperity."

Mr Miner said that "sustainable economic improvement" was only possible by "the sort of urban regeneration that has already done much to rejuvenate many of our largest cities."

"Ministers have consistently maintained that they value the green belt and want to see it protected. Now is the time to put these words into action," he added.

In March 2012, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published a new planning framework which included a section ensuring green belt land is protected.

A draft version of the framework was amended to encourage greater development of brownfield sites, following pressure from the CPRE and other countryside campaign groups.

'Green lung'

Ministers said the policy, along with the Localism Act, gave communities a greater say on planning and scrapped "top-down targets".

However, the CPRE warned that the document puts pressure on local authorities to allow building in the green belt to meet housing and expansion targets.

A DCLG spokesman said: "The green belt is an important protection against urban sprawl, providing a 'green lung' around towns and cities.

"The coalition agreement commits the government to safeguarding green belt and other environmental designations, which they have been in the new National Planning Policy Framework.

"The Localism Act allows for the abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies which sought to bulldoze the green belt around 30 towns and cities across the country."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    To Nutgone@108.France & Germany are four times the size of Britain.The size of this country is the problem.We simply don't have the acres of land that other countries do so it's a bigger problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    It's not about wealth creation. There is NOT enough housing where it is needed. If large numbers of homes are empty in an area, there is a good reason. There is chronic shortage of affordable homes in Devon for example, you can't suddenly ship all poor Devon families to the north east to live in run down urban areas with no job prospects!

  • Comment number 284.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    @ Tamarin

    It's one thing to say that people can't come to the country because immigration is out of control. It's another thing entirely to say people can't live in the countryside because: "I like it the way it is thanks.". Many villages are populated by commuters that forced out the locals; now those commuters travel long distances to work in cities whilst claiming they're environmentalists

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    A cheap and nasty assault on Britain's countryside to house more and more foreigners is about as bad as it gets.

    Deport them - send them home - we're full up!

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    Here is something "interesting".
    After watching the film "The Alamo" on TV this week, I wondered what it would be like today. Searching on the internet, and using Google Maps, I was a little surprised what turned up.

    The Alamo was "The Wild Frontier" and "not a lot" when Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie fought their last battle.

    I have always said "once it has gone it HAS GONE!
    Might be worth a look.

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    Have they run out of school playing fiellds now then???

    We do not need to build on gthe green belt...there are plenty of sites avaiable as brown field

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    First the forrest sell off and now the green belt.
    Just who does this government represent apart from big buisiness, the casino banks, hedge funds, fund managers, The city, the firms in tax avoidance and private equaity companies certainly not the electorate.

    Roll up Roll up all for sale

    Dave you are cluless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    273 Green Belt middle class invention wrong mate it was a labour invention and a damm good one some of us working class like the countryside it's free and the best things in life are free. Check your history before coming on here and posting comments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    As someone who has had regular dealings with the planning authorities for a number of years I can assure the British public that the picture painted by a number of organisations, including the national trust, of developers riding rough shod and building on our dear green spaces is completely misleading. However lets not let the truth get in the way of a good bogey man story!

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    @261 FreedAgent

    "True, but do we need to build on it when there are far more suitable brownfield sites available?".

    We aren't building on it at all. The government hasn't built a house in decades; it's all private sector, and they are building too few houses for the population. CPRE et al don't own the countryside do they; so they have no right to block development on it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    Many more people would be happy to live in city apartments, if the cities themselves were nicer places, with well kept parks and gardens on hand, trees and benches, more openness, car-free areas, peace and sky, as often found on the continent.

    The benefits are obvious: less isolation, more facilities, entertainments etc.

    In truth, what the young and elderly alike in particular want.

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    So, I used to live in Portsmouth before moving to the USA. Portsmouth is an island and the Government want's more and more housing...There is NOT enough room, losing the parks to housing what a joke, build them in Kent, plenty of room for when the Eastern Europeans move over (thats right France does not want them). Nutgone look at the size of France and Germany duh!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    The green belt is a midle class invention, aimed at keeping the plebs where out of middle class back yards. Brownfield sites are another middle class invention, aimed at keeping the plebs where they belong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    My estate was handed over to a "Social Landlord" who has demolished many many good homes and not built anything, just left the place looking like a complete mess..

    If the houses had been properly maintained then there would be no shortage of Tenants..... add to this the fact that the old 1950's housing stock is far superior in size and design

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    Farmers adjoining residential land have been selling farmland to homeowners at high cost for years. After 10 years this becomes residential, i.e. building land.

    The change of classification for gardens from brownfield to greenfield has helped, but this loophole needs losing to protect green belt.

    In some places farmers don't farm at all but get a living this way, leaving their land idle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    Of course building millions of houses like Spain and Ireland worked so well that in Ireland they are knocking them down.

    Stop all immigration problem solved

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    The utilisation of empty properties is the problem the government should be working on. One aspect is the person with a second property, whose debts will not be cleared if the property is sold. Do we give taxpayers' money to people who have got themselves into such a hole, in order to get the property into use? If not, thousands of properties will remain empty and deteriorating.

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    No more building until the scandal of open door immigration is firmly shut. Throw out the illegals then if more houses are needed build on brownfield sites.

    No votes for further destruction of the countryside

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    Typical 'green belt' type house - 3/4/5 bedroom McMansion. Typical brown field type house - 2 bedroom plaster-board walled kennel. I wonder which generates the most profit but helps society least? I wonder which really addresses the housing shortage?


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