New housing should be built on London’s Green Belt in order to alleviate development pressure in the South East, a new report argues.
A 21st Century Metropolitan Green Belt, a study published today by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), makes the case for stopping the piecemeal development of the Metropolitan Green Belt and replacing it with a strategic approach.
The report proposed the development of a limited number of corridors, surrounded by ‘green wedges’, into green belt areas. These would be made up of a chain of centres along public transport links, with extra housing and commercial and industrial space.
The first such corridor, the report suggested, could run out to Cambridge to test the feasibility of this approach.
Dr Alan Mace, assistant professor of urban planning studies at LSE and one of the authors of the report, said: ‘We have reached a point where we cannot keep on disregarding the Green Belt as an option for well thought out development. Brownfield sites simply cannot supply enough land to meet projected housing needs in London and the Wider South East.
‘People often look at the Green Belt and say, 'who would want to lose this?' but often they're looking at land that is protected in other ways, such as Metropolitan Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and this would not change.
‘Some parts of the Green Belt are neither aesthetically pleasing nor environmentally valuable and these are the areas that should be looked at for potential development.’
Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), warned that the Green Belt was being chipped away by councils and developers: 'If we are to build the homes we need, we have to reinforce current protections and put brownfield first, not weaken Green Belt policy on an agenda of economic growth in the south east.
'The Green Belt is well established, but it is not outdated. In preventing urban sprawl it continues to provide impetus for urban regeneration, and makes environmental and economic sense in protecting the breathing space around our towns and cities. The majority of the public recognises this.'