Gobbling up the Green Belt won’t solve housing crisis, claims CPRE

BUILDING homes on the Green Belt will do nothing to solve the housing crisis because few if any are “affordable”, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has claimed.

In a new report, the organisation warns that Green Belts are being “eroded at an alarming rate” and accuses the Government of failing in its commitment to ensure it is protected.

The CPRE’s annual State of the Green Belt report highlights that there are currently 460,000 homes being planned to be built on land that will soon be released from the Green Belt, but the organisation claims that only 22% of them are intended to be “affordable”. That’s down from 28% last year.

Releasing Green Belt land for building is only supposed to take place under ‘exceptional circumstance’, CPRE said, but warned that the release of land looks set to continue, due to a new method for calculating housing demand.

Moving Green Belt boundaries when reviewing local plans makes it easier for local authorities to release land for housing, but CPRE said this strategic shrinking of the Green Belt, as a way of getting around its protected status, is as harmful as building on the Green Belt itself.

“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,” said Tom Fyans, the CPRE’s director of campaigns and policy. “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. 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.”

There is currently enough brownfield land in England to accommodate more than one million homes, CPRE claims. The organisation is urging the Government and local authorities to ensure that this is redeveloped before any more greenfield land is released from the Green Belt.

Local authorities with Green Belt land have enough brownfield land for over 720,000 homes, the report finds, much of which is in areas with a high need for housing and existing infrastructure.

In addition to a push for a genuine ‘brownfield first’ approach to development, CPRE are also calling on the government to:

  • Retain its commitment to protect the Green Belt by establishing long-term boundaries
  • Halt speculative development in the Green Belt
  • Develop clear guidance for local authorities on housing requirements to protect designated land
  • Support the creation of new Green Belts where local authorities have established a clear need for them



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