Letter: Green belt land is under sustained attack

National planning rules require local councils to show exceptional circumstances when they remove land from the green belt.

Our analysis of new government data released this month shows that since 2012 almost 10,000 hectares of green belt land have been released from ‘protected’ green belt boundaries by local councils. These statistics illustrate that since 2012, such changes are no longer exceptional.

For too long housebuilders have been able to use land as a tool to manipulate and monopolise the market to serve their own interests. The government must stop heaping pressure on councils to deliver unrealistic targets that result in the green belt being chipped away. Instead, developers should be held more accountable to deliver the homes that they have promised.

Building within or on land released from the green belt is not the solution: it results in low density, unaffordable homes out of reach of those who need to get a foot on the ladder. These new figures reinforce the conclusions of CPRE’s State of the Green Belt 2018 report from August. We showed that the planned loss of green belt is increasing at an alarming rate. Overall there are currently 460,000 homes being planned to be built on land set to be released from the belt, of which 78 per cent would be unaffordable by the government’s definition.

We are calling on the government to follow through on its commitment to protect the green belt and develop clear guidance for local authorities on housing requirements to protect designated land. There is currently enough brownfield land in England to accommodate more than one million homes, with almost three-quarters of this land in areas with green belt land. We urge the government and local authorities to ensure brownfield land is redeveloped before any more greenfield land is released from the green belt.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner, Campaign to Protect Rural England

Please submit your letters by emailing planning@haymarket.com

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