Government must stop unnecessary greenfield development

28th Jun 2016

Almost 8,000 people have already had their say and sent a letter to their MPs to demand the Government halts plans for a series of changes to the way planning works in England. We want to thank those of you who have taken the time to raise your voices and stand up for the protection of our precious countryside.

As many of you know, the Government is planning to change the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in ways that would see more Green Belt land earmarked for development while brownfield sites lie idle and untouched. We can’t let this happen.

As the dust settles on last week's EU referendum, below are a few updates and observations to keep you up to date as we approach crunch time for influencing the final decisions on the changes to the NPPF.

Housing demand not a good enough reason to shift Green Belt boundaries

We were pleased to read that the Government has stated, in a letter by Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis, that “demand for housing alone will not change Green Belt boundaries”. This is a welcome result of CPRE pressure, but it needs to be carried through to either the NPPF or Planning Practice Guidance. At the moment, local authorities in places such as Bradford, Durham and Northumberland say that demand for housing is sufficient justification for changing Green Belt boundaries. We need to get everyone on the same page.

Brownfield land is ripe for development

We welcome the Government’s initiative to introduce brownfield registers and provide £2.2 billion of funding to support development of brownfield land. Across England, there is more than sufficient brownfield land available to make releases of Green Belt unnecessary. Still more can be done by reforming the New Homes Bonus to encourage brownfield development not supported by other funding and remove any incentive for Green Belt development.

Facts are facts: Green Belt is under threat

The claims in our report are based on evidence: since the NPPF came into force in 2012, large-scale releases of Green Belt have been waved through by planning inspectors in places such as Leeds, Newcastle and Oxfordshire. Similarly, increasing amounts of development within the Green Belt are being approved through planning applications. Research by Glenigan also found a sharp increase in the number of houses securing full planning approval in the Green Belt. In 2009/10, 2,258 homes were approved, but by 2014/2015, this had risen to 11,977 – a five-fold increase.

Development in the Green Belt is rampant

The Government’s own figures on rates of development in the Green Belt hide the fact that much more development – not only housing but also commercial development such as warehousing – is coming through the planning pipeline. The rates of development being approved will lead to building in the Green Belt more than doubling in the coming years.

Green Belt should be permanently protected to prevent urban sprawl and nurture regeneration, but current trends will encourage more local authorities to release Green Belt in future.

It’s not too late to get involved and write a letter to your MP. Despite the attention on last week's EU referendum, the business of government continues and civil servants are working through the new guidance, so there is still time to influence the changes.

Please. Help prevent more needless loss of countryside:

Send a letter to your local MP, using this link.