Councils cautious on green belt after guidance revision

Two Surrey councils' announcements of plans to drop controversial green belt reviews indicate that such moves are 'off limits' for many authorities following new guidance, experts say.

Guildford Borough Council said all green belt sites in its draft local plan are to be reassessed following an October update to the government’s planning practice guidance (PPG).

Meanwhile, Mole Valley District Council said it may scrap its emerging development plan for this reason in favour of a new local plan. Both also cited widespread local opposition to green belt development. The PPG stresses that the green belt may limit the "ability to meet housing need".

Strategic planner at lobby group the Home Builders Federation James Stevens said: "The guidance almost puts green belt reviews off limits."

Barrister Kevin Leigh of No5 Chambers said the PPG "drives a coach and horses" through the National Planning Policy Framework’s requirement for councils to meet objectively assessed housing needs.

Paul Miner, senior planning campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, commented that "some local authorities are clearly taking encouragement" from the revised guidance.


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