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 126.

    Interesting comments from private developers/multiple property owners whining about nibyism - usually the only thing to benefit from your sort of 'development is your own bank accounts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    MPs keep pledges - oh please. If it is convenient for this government to build on greenfield sites to gain political capital, it will do so. They will find some weasel way of redesignating it to make it acceptable. They have already started building on Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and green wedges between towns and villages so it is but a small step to green belt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    I genuinely think this nation needs to close the immigration door. Totally and for quite a while so we can get our house in order.

    This is not for xenophobic reasons, simply because we are a small landmass, limited space and limited resources. I have a could only sustain a limited number of people. It would end up in chaos if I let unlimited numbers in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    i apologise to all the rightwing politico's but your wrong on green issues.this is not the type of gov in my opinion that instill's confidence on the topic "enviroment" they seem to have devoloped a method of the one line answer on any policy they are rebuked on,answed in the positive,no matter how wrong they are,it is the same with the enviroment question,a glib positive response.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    There would be no housing problems at all if all the immigrants, migrants, asylum seekers and others with dubious reasons to be here had not been allowed in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    #116.. well rent then no one is stopping you...if you want to chuck all your money away to some faceless landlord thats up to makes sense to invest your money in property,thats why gb is great and ,well, the rest of europe is the rest of europe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.


  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    RE: 103. Vin.

    What a great point... your anecdote certainly does prove that with an average house price of £226,887 and an average wage of £28,400 for men, there is no need to build more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Swampy, where are you when we most need you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    (97) We need new and better housing, the cost of housing in the UK is a scandal and much of the conservation law seems designed only to protect the financial interests of landowners and landlords. wake up tony bliar allowed this to happen not who you say

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    Why are we Brits so intent on 'owning' our own property? I see pages of rentals available every week. Most other Europeans rent, in Germany, which has the soundest economy, renting is the norm

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Most of us use the HYS to vent about what is happening to our country, the average person has no power as MP's only pay us lip service come election time, and once in the ignore us and follow the party whip, who follows the PM. Unfortunately Dave is in charge so his business chums are running the country, the green belts WILL BE BUILT ON, immigration will continue unabated. DisUnited Kingdom.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    85. Littleoldme,

    Are you ignoring the fact that 14% of the prison population is foreign born?

    If we had an overall 120,000 +ve immigration per year for 15 years dont you think this will effect housing? Or are you just choosing to ignore problems to suit your means ? Like Gordon brown

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Firstly, you cannot trust an MP to vote for anything his constituents want - he is party fodder. As such there is no guarantee on the "green belt".

    There is in fact no shortage of housing. Many location shave brown field sites that can be used for housing or former shops that do not work anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Why is it that my phone has hardly stopped ringing with phone and loan chasers trying to contact me.
    TP signed up for but still they call.
    Must be a bank holiday thing.

    Is this the shape of things to come?

    Work and then being assailed wherever you are for your money?

    It's enough to get me out on a walk.

    Ah. Problem. The green belt is busy being built over.
    Nowhere to go for a walk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    98. Jack Napier

    I live in the urban sprawl of the Greater Birmingham area. I can assure you, the brownfield sites are being built on. Old factory sites are now having flats, houses and new builds.

    I lived in East Sussex. Very rural. The town I used to reside in is unrecognizable builds on surrounding green space. Out of town shopping complexes...and a dead high street. That's my view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    94.johnny - "....they cannot afford to buy a house as work is extremely hard to find, and property prices are unrealistically high...."

    And won't the idle, obscenely rich squeal when there's no working people left in the countryside to serve them their cafe lattes.....

    They'll struggle to reconcile poor people being priced out with their culture of expectancy because they have money....

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    if 250,000 immigrants come in every year,and people are happy with that , then in ten years time the population is up 2.5 million and the amount of land is the can that not impact on housing and housing ok if they go on waiting lists then when a house is available they come in thats fine,or come in and buy ..thats fine, im perfectly happy to make money out of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    The green belt keeps housing high priced. At this time when the nation is on its knees we need to relax planning and get house building back on the menu. This would stimulate the economy and get people back to work. First time buyers need housing they can afford without punitive income multiples to pay back. This is why France and Germany do well they have affordable housing for all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    Ha, Ha ! The wealthy Nimby's have woken.

    It was OK for them to import millions of low cost immigrants to keep their businesses and lifestyles flushed with cash ... but they don't like the natural consequences of this.

    They have been unaware of the changing face of the nation and their assets are being kept artificially high by their banking and political chums.

    Consequence time !


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