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 246.

    Priority - we need food to live. More houses = more CO2 and less land for food. Legislate to prevent people owning dozens of houses in UK and that will make thousands of houses available for sale, immediately!

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    The Tory govt' introduced the, 'Localism Bill so that local people could decide on their own communities' - absolute unmitigated bull! Our village said NO to large scale developement and gave good reason why not. The 'Vale District Council over-rode this against our wishes and green belt will be built upon; back handers are suspected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    With an exploding population we cannot keep on kettling people into urban areas. That is not to say we have to build on green belt land. There are other solutions. Stopping child benefits for more than two children is one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    I thought that travel to work was an issue for most people. 2,500 acres is only about 4 square miles. Surely you must be able to find that, presumably in smaller 'parcels, close by to where the jobs for the workers that require the housing requires it. The abundant derelict sites or sites requiring redevelopment that can be found in or on the outskirts most cities are prime examples.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    2 Hours ago

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

    Yes it is because we havent let developers run riot in the green belt..

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    Is Chris Heaton-Harris opposed to this, like he is opposed to wind farms?

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    What a farce the law is. Meanwhile, three flats sit empty in my block (presumably because the rents on offer are too high, especially under the present economic circumstances) and there is soon to be a fourth, as the landlord takes possession of mine. And this follows redundancy/end of secure job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    Let me see...

    Arctic summer sea ice extent is at a record low.
    Massive drought in the US
    Record rainfall and flooding in the UK
    Soaring food prices

    Wait, I know the answer!
    Concrete over more land and increase CO2 emissions.

    Why didn't I think of that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    It is a myth that building more housing will make the country richer. The only people who will benefit are the banks and the property developers. The rest of us will pay for the cost of the raw materials consumed and the loss of green belt that can never be recovered. I live in an area which grew the food we now have to import. But the farmland is now housing estates, populated by the unemployed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    We don't need more houses, just the 930,000 properties standing empty being filled and 1m illegal immigrants removing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    We have a rook of empty industrial units and space within built areas for more housing and regeneration without slicing up more green land.

    How about people dont get sly backhanders and we redevelop some of the mess we have already created instead of making more.

    STOP selling to private investors and develop housing thats affordable instead of a quick profit that will be squandered anyway..

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    How's this for a bumper sticker?

    Green belts hold up house prices

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    228 banger64
    Exactly,there is a massive downward pressure on the amount of jobs in the 20k/50k region,at the same time as absurd costs for running a car or public transport,as well as house prices holding up fairly well in areas that have the things you mention,so the ability to get on your bike may or may not help,but you need to earn enough where ever employment is located to afford the rent!

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    I agree with Leodisthefirst (#66) - what remains of our countryside is under pressure from population growth, and the govt has already admitted that two-thirds of projected population increase will be attributable to immigration. We must halt this madness, and offer free carriage home to those who arrive here and are disappointed that the streets are not really paved with gold.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    My local area has over 2000 empty homes, not ones for sale, just empty and unused. There is enough derelict commercial property that will house the whole of the county homeless. It's about time this government got to grips with rebuilding the towns and not expanding outwards.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    Please do not let the UK become Gilliam's nightmare 'Brazil' !

    Say 'NO!' to Central Services !!!

    =>Oh come on! You'll be all right as long as your name isn't Buttle. But don't suggest that film to the tories who might start charging people arrested for information retrieval.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    Rousseau had it right when he attacked the first impostor who put up a fence and said this is mine. We should have chased them off there and then.

    Rousseau: "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.".

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    226 thrill-vermillion
    "population growth comes at a price,we should no longer pay"
    It has been my experience for many years,that large families are the luxury of the very top and very bottom of society for obvious reasons,and the ones at the top will never allow laws like China etc,for vested interest reasons!

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.


    And where is this land? Is it per chance anywhere near jobs or services or where people want to live? Or did you just come out with an unresearched and spurious comment?

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    There must be absolutely no building on green belts. That is why green belts were set up in the first place.

    There is plenty of other designated land in Britain - use it.


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