Report backs 'green web' plan for London

A report has backed the release of sections of the metropolitan green belt around London for housing, if new homes are developed side-by-side with a better managed natural environment.

Green belt: report backs 'green web' plan to boost London's housing supply
Green belt: report backs 'green web' plan to boost London's housing supply

The proposal for "green webs" is one of a range of measures included in Re/Shaping London: Unlocking Sustainable Growth in West London and Beyond, commissioned by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for London’s Planning and Built Environment.

Report authors Jonathan Manns and Nicholas Falk said the green web concept aimed to make better use of existing green belt on the edge of the city by creating a "multifunction green infrastructure landscape" in which new-build and publicly accessible natural space sat side-by-side.

Manns, who is head of regeneration and director of planning at property specialist Colliers International, and Falk, founder of consultant URBED, argue that the capital needs to "rediscover strategic planning" and engage in a programme of suburban densification to deliver a target of 62,000 new homes a year.

Focusing their ideas on west London, Manns and Falk argue that 200,000 new homes could be delivered through new green web development, densification, and the creation of a new garden city on the site of the Royal Air Force-operated Northolt Airport, which they said could create more than 40,000 homes alone. 

They also propose the creation of a new western orbital rail line linking Uxbridge with Staines.

Manns and Falk’s central theme of green webs is touted as creating an "enabling policy environment where natural capital is integrated into all planning decisions", which would both deliver new homes and improve public accessibility to land for sports, exercise or the enjoyment of nature.

"The key distinction between areas of green web and green belt would be that, rather than setting a clear delineation between urban and rural areas, the web would seek to fuse the two together," they said.

"In doing so, it would seek to establish a more sustainable and higher-quality approach to land use."

The authors said that setting aside five per cent of the metropolitan green belt within London’s administrative boundaries for green web use would release around 18,000 hectares of land, which could deliver more than 35,000 new homes - even if just half of it was built on.

Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq, who chairs the planning and built environment APPG, said Manns and Falk’s recommendations were "bold". 

"Whilst not everyone will agree with every aspect, the APPG welcomes this contribution to the debate about the future of London and beyond", she said.

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