Green belt under greater threat than ever before, warns CPRE

More than two-thirds of the homes now planned for green belt land are unaffordable, according to a new report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Published today, the CPRE’s annual Green Belt Under Siege report shows more than 70% of homes proposed for development on green belt land are not expected to be affordable.

The report estimates 425,000 homes are now due to be built on green belt land, which is an increase of 54% on last year’s figure – 275,000.

The CPRE also claim the government’s New Homes Bonus scheme is ‘handsomely rewarding’ councils with £2.4bn in extra money, without delivering affordable homes.

The report also notes that while the recent Conservative election manifesto pledged to ‘maintain the existing strong protections on designated land’, like the green belt, recent proposals in the government’s housing white paper could lead to further losses.

Green belt ‘not a barrier’ to solving housing crisis

According to the CPRE, councils will be expected to consider environmental and planning designations, such as the green belt, when calculating housing targets, but many chose to ignore this requirement.

Green belt is being lost at an ever faster rate, yet the type of housing being built now or in the future will do very little to address the affordable housing crisis faced by many families and young people,’ warned the CPRE’s director of campaigns and policy, Tom Fyans.

The only ones set to benefit from future green belt development will be landowners and the big housebuilders, not communities in need of decent, affordable housing,’ he added.

Protecting the green belt is part of, not a barrier to, solving the housing crisis. It encourages us to focus on the one million plus homes we can build on suitable brownfield sites, and avoid the environmental costs of urban sprawl. The green belt makes our towns and cities better places to live. It provides quick access to the countryside. The government must do more to protect it.’

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said it does ‘not recognise these figures’.

This government is committed to protect the green belt,’ said the spokesperson. 

Only in exceptional circumstances may councils alter green belt boundaries, after consulting local people and submitting the revised local plan for examination. We’ve been clear that councils must prioritise development on brownfield land, and announced plans to radically boost brownfield development.

Our recent housing white paper also set out measures to make housing more affordable, boosted by a £7.1bn investment in affordable housing by March 2021.’

  • Image shows Grenoble Road in Oxford where green belt land south of the road has long been earmarked for housing development. CPRE has campaigned against plans while Oxford City Council argues the new homes are desperately needed.
Jamie Hailstone

Jamie Hailstone

journalist

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