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 186.

    183.echtdampfer - "The housing shortage has arisen because of unfettered immigration from within and outside the EU...."

    Are you familiar with the conept ofchecking your facts?

    Immigrants make up roughly 2% of the current UK population....& the average immigrant household contains more occupants than does the average British household......

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    179: So "only" 2.5% of the UK is built on? - what a misuse of a statistic! Presumably you're including the mountains of Scotland and Wales in that calculation? Proponents of building on greenbelt land are the ones who know nothing - when that land is covered by concrete and tarmac it's gone forever. And it isn't just buildings - what about the roads, carparks etc which always follow?

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    We need to protect the green belts simply because they're the few remaining areas of this country that are decent. You only have to go into the ghetto's of Birmingham to see what the effect humans would have on our green belts if they were allowed to spread.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    The housing shortage has arisen because of unfettered immigration from within and outside the EU, which also puts great strain on services and utilities. This suits the Tories and big business because the immigrants are prepared accept lower wages and a lower standard of living. Time to get out of the EU and reclaim our sovereign laws and borders methinks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    A planning officer once told me "A developer is someone who wants to build a house in the countryside, a conservationist is someone who's already got one".
    However, we'll destroy our crop producing land at our peril. Surely new development should be close to jobs, transport, shops etc otherwise fuel usage and resource depletion will continue to grow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    free pussi riot

    Hence me mentioning the financial sector.

    Borrowing more would be in the (relative) short term.

    Things should have been organised sooner and the bubble prevented, but now it's happened, there will be pain either way.

    Building over green belt means us folk in towns and cities have ever further to go to get some air!

    We can't keep growing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Concrete and asphalt don't produce food. Those strange and complex things called Plants and Fungi and Bacteria do that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

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

    Firstly what do they know. Nothing

    The facts are ouly 2.5% of the UK is built on. The rest is green areas / natural.

    The debate should be about unlimited high rise in cities and what % of green belt we want to build on. say we agree 5% then we can start to agree were.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    All this government wants to do is strip England down for everything its worth, and sell it all off for their own benefit. Never mind that the government does not own national services, or green belt etc. In their minds rings the phrase "I am the state."

    Regime change from these failed ideologies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    @163 'leslie48'
    As you mention Cambridge - I politely point out there is an uncompleted new build development in Cambridge. Who is speaking up for them? No, I don't live in Cambridge.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    @172 paulmerhaba

    And they want to spend billions redeveloping Westminster because of some sentimental historical clap trap. For the money they want to spend they could build a purpose built commons on a brown field site that would serve the people far better. Flog Westminster to the NT and charge tourist to get in and you could pay for the new build over the long run.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    With the number of pubs that have had to close, the number of Post Offices that have been forced to close, the number of empty shops in the High Street we don't need to build do we?. That must have created a few houses. Oh I forgot Britain is being slowly being forced to move away from being a green and pleasant land into an investment for the rich.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Greenbelt isn't about 'nice views', its about living in harmony with Britain's nature, giving humans an area to de-stress, and keeping us self sufficient food wise. When the crap hits the fan globally (which it will again, humans self destruct), countries have to look after their own nationals, and self sufficiency is paramount, both in food and fuel. Humans don't have priority on this planet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    This government is simply putting money in the pockets of their friends and supporters the property developers. Not only are they making cheap land available, but also dropping the the requirement to provide a percentage of affordable housing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    164. coram-populo-2010
    Another interesting story on the BBC news site is that Parliament may close for 5yrs for repairs because it's systems are creaking - laugh, gasp!
    Well we do have the world athletics championships in 2017, the poor overworked mps do need a stress break to prepare.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.


    No racism in allowing the population to lower a bit.

    The country is overpopulated. I'm not advocating kicking anyone out, or discriminating against any group in the country. Just a lowering of the already massive population over time.

    Reading things like that into my post says more about yourself than me.

    I do like Wales though!

    Oh and i have no children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Midnight@160, I class new labour as Tory lite, they followed Thatcherite policies almost as well as Clegg and Dave. They started the problem, Dave is merrily putting the final touches to the master plan. Unfortunately there is no politician in the UK who has the backbone to do what is needed. The liberals are a major disappointment in coalition , I do not know who I will vote for next time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    ..I agree, and we also need to discourage people having more than 2 children (whether that can be done just by restricting CB to 2 or by other means).

    fair enough but it does mean having an aging population bulge. The smaller young generation won't generate enough wealth to support it & its too late to account with forward planning so the country will have to accept borrowing more

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    Oh for goodness sake! What's so sacrosanct about green belt? What's more important, housing or nice views?

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Let's sell of the school playing fields and the Green Belts of this once green and pleasant land !!!
    Well of course, who cares ? They only belong to the people : there's very little else to privatise here now !!!

    Time for DEEP CHANGE !!!


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