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 206.

    Green belt land should not be sold to developers for housing, it should be compulsorily purchased by central government at agricultural land prices and then houses built on it under contract to remove land/house price speculation. This would significantly reduce the cost of housing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    There are many posts here moaning about NIMBYS.

    Strange thing is, I've never met an IMBY.

    Hard to avoid the conclusion that the anti-nimbys are those who lack a back yard.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    We should be concentrating on reclaiming brown field sites in city and towns thus cutting back on commuting, at the same time invest in affordable new build in rural areas for local people to keep rural towns and villages viable, plus a tax on second homes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    Moderators! Re Post 104, this was NOT my post; I have only just started reading this thread.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    @200 Graphis

    "What's better: a field of cows, or a housing estate?".

    An economists would probably say a field with negative 50 cows in it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    I live within the green-belt, where house sizes are restricted and limits are quite-rightly imposed. However, they haven't been fully respected. About 10 minutes down the road from me, a private developer built an enormous house which exceeded regulation, simply because he knew someone on the council. Other developers have started to follow suit and tasteless houses are springing up everywhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    Depends how you actually define "Green Belt": looking at the map here:
    we can see that most of our land is not actually natural green space, but enclosed farmland. So it's already land that is privately owned, managed for profit, and not land the public have any access or rights to. What's better: a field of cows, or a housing estate?

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    There is definitely NOT enough land. 70% of England is agricultural land already and yet it can't feed us. In an oil scarce economy it will not be able to feed more than a fraction of us. Google "farming in a post oil economy" and you'll see the truth.

    Britain IS overcrowded, compared to other countries you have far less countryside free from houses. Those who would build on it are a disease.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    Brown field sites are more expensive to develop than green field ones.
    After WW2 redevelopment of city centres was not a problem because the German Luftwaffe had done much of the demolition.
    Going back to The Great Fire of London 1666 which gutted the medieval city although considered a tragedy at the time not only cleansed the plague infested city but also provided an opportunity to rebuild.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    MP's honour a pledge. That'll be a first!
    There is no housing, school place, jobs shortage; just too many people,
    When we go skint they'll sling their hooks and we can make a new start to recover. We could, perhaps educate, house and employ our own people so that, as a nation, we become less dependent on others. It's worth hoping....isn't it. Stupid country...roll on the asteroid!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    PPG2 relates to controlling urban growth. It has five purposes and many well-being advantages for the populus. If green belt is sold off,I wonder will any new homes be built near Bagshot Park,Gatcombe Park,Llwynywermod,Birkhall, Sandringham House, etc.etc.?

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    This Goverment will go down as the least green - ever. Setting the record for the most hot air however

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    A recent report stated that the UK's self sufficiency is only at 59%, farmers are switching from food crops to cereals for export etc. The recent bad weather has further impacted that figure. This country cannot support itself without cheap imports. The governments plan takes no account of the pollution and damage new building in the country will do. Green Credentials, food miles I despair .

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    179- yes, we might take your analysis more seriously if you could spell properly.Are you a builder by any chance?

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    Being governed by a bunch who would quite literally sell their granny. Nothing is safe

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    Look at a satellite pic of the UK and it looks mostly green.

    20 years ago I wouldn't have expected to say this but we must build a *lot* more homes for our increased population.

    Further over-stressing existing infrastructures is becoming unviable.

    Sadly, we now need more *new* towns but there is plenty of room for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    The amount of quality undisturbed countryside is actually very low. Most of it these days has become semi urban which is why many species are in decline in this country. Farmers leave thousands of acres barren every year with nothing but wheat & barley growing. It all went wrong when hedgerows were ripped up and tiny box like houses are built with little or no gardens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    So many more things could be done before considering building on any green belt land. Especially since we'll need it for the new era of rising food prices to become more self-sufficient again.

    - deal with empty houses, by repossession if necessary
    - brownfield developments / building reuse
    - let the house price crash happen so people become more realistic about living expectations again

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    @176 'Under-Used'
    Excellent idea! As an historic building it must cost a fortune to heat/maintain at our expense.

    As tax-payers, perhaps it's time we demand that our Parliament operate out of a purpose built conference building. However, the only caveat is that it costs less millions than the Scottish Parliament new build.

    No, not anti-Scottish - but do politicans need another temple?

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    There is plenty of land. I say again: There is plenty of land. Stop claiming it needs to be protected for this (crops) that (aesthetics) or the other (greed) when it isn't at risk. Population, prices, and vested interests are the cause not an eroding countryside that simply isn't being eroded as there is so much of it unused.


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