Developers accused of ‘gobbling up’ Green Belt

The Green Belt is being ‘eroded at an alarming rate’ with plans to build 460,000 homes on land that will soon be released, according to a leading pressure group.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has today published its annual State of the Green Belt report, which warns that developers are ‘gobbling up’ land and that building homes on the Green Belt will not solve the crisis in affordable housing anyway.

According to the report, almost three quarters (72%) of homes built on greenfield land last year within the Green Belt were unaffordable by the government’s own definition.

And of the 460,000 homes that are planned to be built on land that will be released from the Green Belt this year, the percentage of unaffordable homes will rise to 78%.

The report also claims there is currently enough brownfield land in England to build 1 million homes.

The CPRE has also warned that the release of Green Belt land looks set to continue, as one third of local authorities with Green Belt land will find themselves with an increase in housing targets, due to a new method for calculating housing demand, with the London (Metropolitan) Green Belt will be the biggest casualty.

‘We are being sold a lie by many developers,’ said the CPRE’s director of campaigns and policy, Tom Fyans.

‘As they sell off and gobble up the Green Belt to build low density, unaffordable housing, young families go on struggling to afford a place to live. The affordable housing crisis must be addressed with increasing urgency, while acknowledging that far from providing the solution, building on the Green Belt only serves to entrench the issue.

‘The Government is failing in its commitment to protect the Green Belt – it is being eroded at an alarming rate,’ added Mr Fyans.

‘But it is essential, if the Green Belt is to fulfil its main purposes and provide 30 million of us with access to the benefits of the countryside, that the redevelopment of brownfield land is prioritised, and Green Belt protection strengthened.’

An MHCLG spokesperson said: ‘We are clear that building the homes our country needs does not mean tearing up our countryside.

‘Last year the number of new homes built was the highest in a decade, and only 0.02 per cent of the Green Belt was developed for residential use.

‘We are adding more certainty to the planning system and our new planning rulebook strengthens national protections for the Green Belt, and says that councils may only alter boundaries in exceptional circumstances once they have looked at all other options,’ added the spokesman.

To read the CPRE’s State of the Green Belt report click here.

Jamie Hailstone

Jamie Hailstone

journalist

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