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Ministerial support for Our Green Belt campaign

16 September 2015

Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis has responded to our letter marking the 60th anniversary of the Green Belt, recognising the support for the Green Belt shown in our survey, and emphasising the Government’s commitment to protecting Green Belt.

He writes: “I recognise the strong popular support for Green Belt captured in your Ipsos MORI survey. I also agree that many of the arguments put forward for releasing Green Belt for housing are ill-founded; to them, our manifesto commitment to continuing strong protection of the Green Belt should serve as an answer.”

However, the Minister also pointed out that current rates of development in the Green Belt are comparatively low, and that much of this development is on brownfield land.

In relation to his first point, Paul Miner, CPRE’s planning campaign manager, told The Times newspaper in August that the 3,000 homes built in the Green Belt in 2013-14 are the tip of the iceberg, with far more to come because councils are sacrificing green belt land to meet housing targets. Planning permission was granted for 11,977 homes in England’s 14 Green Belts in the year to the end of March, up from 5,607 in the previous 12 months, according to Glenigan, a company that provides data on the construction industry. Up to a further 200,000 houses are designated for currently designated Green Belt in draft or adopted Local Plans. Given these figures, CPRE fears the Minister is being dangerously complacent and the Government needs to do more to turn its rhetoric into action to protect Green Belt.

Paul Miner said: “The amount of houses being built on previously undeveloped land is comparatively low density compared with what was being achieved in the 2000s, and increasing amounts of greenfield land are in the planning pipeline. The Government is doing some good work to bring brownfield sites back into use, but it also needs to set higher design standards for all new housing to prevent our precious farmland from being wasted.”

On the second point, CPRE recognises that there are a number of brownfield sites in the Green Belt that could be beneficially redeveloped. But there are particular issues with many sites in the Green Belt that are classed as brownfield – many are former hospitals and research establishments set in extensive, often historic, parkland. We need to make sure that we keep to the footprint of the existing buildings when we develop these sites, and don’t lose the open and other valuable qualities when they are redeveloped.

Find out more

Read Neil Sinden's Green Belt forever? blog, where he reflects on the positive response to our campaign and questions whether the Government will honour its pledge to protect the Green Belt.

Get the facts on Green Belt with our guide to what you need to know

Read the 60th anniversary poll shows clear support for Green Belt news release

 

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