The draft National Planning Policy Framework, published in July, was heavily criticised by environmental groups including the National Trust and Campaign for the Protection of Rural England. These organisations claimed that the new proposals offered little protection to undesignated countryside.
But Clark said green belt development could not go ahead without the approval of surrounding residents.
"Local communities are the best judges of what is important in their area," he maintained.
"My expectation is that most communities will want to bring brownfield sites back into use. But it will be up to local people to decide."