The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has published figures that it says show more than 150,000 houses, along with more than 1,000 hectares of mines, offices and warehousing, are planned for Green Belt sites.
The CPRE says this is an increase of 84% in a year and comes despite Government assurances that its planning reforms would ‘maintain protection of the Green Belt’.
The campaign is raising serious concerns about whether the Government’s pledge to prevent building in the Green Belt other than in ‘exceptional circumstances’ is being implemented effectively.
Three years have passed since Secretary of State Eric Pickles pledged to revoke the regional plans that ‘worst of all threatened the destruction of the Green Belt’.
CPRE says 150,464 houses are planned for Green Belt sites. This follows a previous evaluation undertaken in August 2012, which found that over 81,000 dwellings were planned, equivalent to an area the size of Slough.
The Government issued a Written Ministerial Statement in July stating that that the single issue of housing demand does not in itself justify building on the Green Belt .
CPRE has welcomed this statement and is now calls on Ministers to take urgent further action over the coming months to safeguard the Green Belt, including:
- making a clear statement that suitable brownfield sites in urban areas should be used before greenfield land in the Green Belt for new development;
- introducing measures to help local authorities to work together to safeguard the Green Belt and direct development to areas in need of regeneration; and
- providing clear guidance on the requirement for supplying five years’ worth of sites for new housing in local plans, to reduce the scope for developers to promote Green Belt or greenfield land when better brownfield sites are available.