William Eichler 09 October 2017

Number of green belt sites pegged for development ‘doubled’, campaigners say

The number of sites facing development on London’s green belt has more than doubled since last year, campaigners warn.

New research from the London Green Belt Council (LGBC) has revealed between July 2016 and July 2017 the number of sites earmarked for development on the capital’s green belt increased from 203 to 443.

The total number of houses proposed to be built on these sites went from 123,528 to 163,474.

The report, entitled The accelerating loss of London’s Green Belt - who is to blame?, found the councils with the greatest number of houses proposed to be built on green belt land are Central Bedfordshire (17,100), East Hertfordshire (16, 950) and Basildon (13,035).

The counties with the greatest number of ‘threats’ - as LGBC characterises them - are Hertfordshire (44,974 houses), Surrey (41,760) and Essex (35,674).

The council is a grouping of about 100 organisations which campaign locally against development on green belt land. They collectively represent over 50,000 people.

‘Councils are being pushed by Government to set targets which are much higher than will ever be built,’ said LGBC chair Richard Knox-Johnston.

‘They must release land even though it won’t be needed. None of this will have any impact on the overall supply of housing because land supply was never the problem.

‘But it will mean that Green Belt will be built on before brownfield land. So this is fundamentally undermining the purpose of the green belt – to promote much needed regeneration in run down areas and contain urban sprawl.’

Mr Knox-Johnston said action was ‘urgently’ needed to avoid ‘irreparable’ damage to the capital’s green belt.

‘Instead of proposing ill-thought out methods for calculating targets which conflate housing need with market demand, the Government should be reducing the pressure on councils to build on Green Belt land by focusing on genuine housing need and restricting the ability of councils to de- designate Green Belt land,’ he added.

For more on the green belt and the housing crisis read our feature, ‘Do we REALLY need the green belt?’

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