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London Green Belt letter

10 August 2015

On 5 August Richard Godwin argued in the Evening Standard that house building on the London Green Belt would give young people more access to green spaces. Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), responded with a letter to the paper.

The abridged version of the full letter, below, was published on Friday 7 August and argued that one of the main benefits of preventing urban sprawl was to afford people better access to green spaces. Paul also pointed out that Green Belt development would likely be out of reach of young renters, and that we should instead be focusing on the 1 million plus homes we could build on suitable brownfield land.

 

We were pleased to see Richard Godwin referring to CPRE’s new campaign – Our Green Belt - in his column yesterday (‘Green Belters need to keep up with the times’). Still, it was disappointing to see him fall back on a series of myths to advocate Green Belt development.

Mr Godwin argues that a more representative Green Belt campaign would ‘concede some ground in a bid to allow everyone access to green spaces’, but access is actually one of the key benefits of Green Belt. By preventing the sprawl of towns and cities, Green Belt ensures that urban dwellers have easier access to countryside and the health and wellbeing benefits it brings. The Thames Chase Community Forest, once under threat of development, is a great example.

Encouraging development in the London Green Belt would simply see developers build large detached homes – not mansion blocks – which would remain out of reach for the young renters we all want to help. To tackle the housing crisis, we must instead start to redevelop the brownfield land that can provide a million and more homes across England. 300,000 of these could be in London, closer to amenities, existing transport links and work.

Our poll showed that 64% of all people, and 62% of 15-24 year olds, want to see the Green Belt protected, as opposed to 17% and 14% respectively who do not. The Green Belt has been a huge success. It is vital that we not only continue to protect it, but get out and enjoy it too.

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