Green belt building ‘not leading to affordable new homes’ – but are green belt boundaries accurate?

The Campaign to Protect Rural England have raised concerns that the homes being built on green belt land will not solve the affordable housing crisis.

They report that 72% of the homes built last year within the green belt are mostly unaffordable by the government’s definition, and of the 460,000 homes that are planned to be built on land that will be released from the Green Belt, the percentage of unaffordable homes will increase to 78%.

Moreover, the report found that those authorities with Green Belt land have enough brownfield land for over 720,000 homes – much of which is in areas with a high need for housing and existing infrastructure.

The CPRE are calling for a genuine ‘brownfield first’ approach to development and are also calling on the government to:

  • retain its commitment to protect the Green Belt by establishing long-term boundaries
  • halt speculative development in the Green Belt
  • develop clear guidance for local authorities on housing requirements to protect designated land and
  • support the creation of new Green Belts where local authorities have established a clear need for them

However,  not everyone believes that green belt boundaries are correctly drawn.  Chairman and founder of RelCap, a London based property development company, Andy Scott, believes that ocal Authorities often get the balance wrong.  Scott says:

“The balance between protecting green belt land and delivering government housing targets is one that has always divided opinion. Yet, the misunderstanding and simplification of the term ‘protected green belt land’ is arguably the source of this contention. Despite the data released on Monday, only 0.02% of green belt land has been built on for residential purpose thanks to existing protections that are in place.

If we are to deliver much needed homes, a pragmatic approach must be taken. Councils are working on ancient local plans which are incorrectly marking settlement boundaries that in turn preventing any proposed developments receiving the green light. Councils aren’t possessing any common sense and rejecting permission of developments that would finish the vernacular of a street scene with no harm, or a valuable windfall site for the council. 

For rural communities to avoid becoming ghost hamlets, we need to support them by encouraging developments to continue with updated settlement boundaries. The struggle for the under 30s is finally being battled with a new attitude to developments – YIMBY. Replacing the outdated attitude of NIMBY, a trend common with the over 55’s, arguing that new developments will disrupt their community, YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) will ensure that communities thrive for years to come.

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