Should rules surrounding the ‘Green Belt’ be relaxed to allow for further development?

A new report originating from a popular think-tank, ‘Policy Exchange’, has put forward strong arguments for the relaxation of rules surrounding development on ‘Green Belt’ land.

The report details a potential solution to the current housing crisis. Titled ‘Cities for Growth’, the authors claim that there are not enough Brownfield (already built upon) sites to supply the substantial demand for housing and that strict rules concerning development on green field sites (space without previous construction) are hampering growth.

The report argues: “We would not lose if the more brown parts of the green belt become attractive suburbs like Fulham, Richmond, Clifton in Bristol or Didsbury in Manchester bringing with them a wave of green public space and parks.

“Green belts will hold back our cities, reducing their ability to both regenerate and grow. If we cannot build on green belts we simply build on other green field sites or destroy urban green space.”

It goes on to argue that the green belt legislation is outdated and too broad, failing to discriminate between different standards of land quality. Under their suggestions, if development were to be allowed on the Green Belt it would be concentrated on the lower quality land and would continue to protect the more attractive areas.

Alex Morton, author of the report, stated: “Building new garden cities sounds radical. But we have successful examples in the UK, from the original garden cities to new towns like Milton Keynes and major planned developments like Docklands and the Olympic site.

“There are significant advantages in concentrating a lot of development in one place, allowing proper planning for infrastructure, and allowing us to create green and pleasant places to live.”

The report, therefore, offers an alternative solution to the housing crisis. If green belt land was to be freed up in less desirable locations, they argue, well constructed and carefully planned towns could spring up; providing clean, comfortable and inexpensive accommodation for those who desperately need it.

There will likely be significant opposition to this suggestion from green activists and lovers of the British countryside, but proponents of the idea will strongly argue that, with an average first-time-buyer age of 37 and demand extremely strong for affordable accommodation, a priority towards human needs must be placed above those of the treasured British countryside.

The Government’s solution to the current housing crisis was released on November 21st under the Affordable Housing Plan. To read more about this plan, and the reaction to it, read our article here .

23-11-11

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