Housing Applications for Green Belt Land Reach a record total of 460,000

In the past year, applications to build an additional 35,000 homes on green belt land have been submitted. This takes the total number proposed for construction on protected land to a record 460,000.

New data released recently by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) demonstrated that over 24,000 homes were built on UK green belt land in the past nine years. The State of the Green Belt 2018 report shows us the quantity of completed homes developed within these protected areas increased by twofold last year to approximately 8,000.

Protecting green belt land has been a long standing promise of the Government but many campaigners believe that more of the controlled green belt land could be released to allow for building of sorely needed affordable new homes.

Most of the construction so far has actually been on brownfield plots within green belt lands. However, data suggests that the overwhelming majority of homes built on greenfield green belt land is in high price brackets which are unattainable to most buyers. 27% of new homes built or approved for building on greenfield land since 2009 have adhered to the Government’s own definition of affordable housing.

The data, collected by the CRPE from various sources, was announced just a few weeks after the government’s revised version of the national planning policy framework was released. This new framework which was released just before the Summer Parliamentary recess along with a variety of other announcements contained a broad array of important policy points.

In this new policy, ministers overrode campaigners, parish councils and those others who had called for a blanket ban on construction within green belt lands, while at the same time not agreeing to the loosening of green belt rules looked for by developers.

‘The restrictions on the location of housing in the green belt are in place to prevent gradual erosion of green belt boundaries over time and to maintain openness. The revised framework does however continue to make clear that plans may provide for limited affordable housing for local community needs.’
 
Taken from the Draft Revised National Planning Policy Framework: Government Response

Within 2017-18 the CPRE discovered that more than 8,000 homes were constructed on green belt land. 4,800 of these were on brownfield sites, while 3,300 were built on previously undeveloped land. That’s a considerable difference from 2016-17 in which more than 4,000 buildings were completed and fewer than 1,000 of those were on greenfield sites.

Developments like these represent only a miniscule portion of the land currently considered green belt in the United Kingdom. The total 315 hectares constructed on last year made up only 0.0002% of the UK’s 1.6 million hectares of green belt.

It is important to note that the green belt planning designation was implemented with the intention of preventing urban sprawl, not protecting beautiful countryside.