The Government has warned that once green belt boundaries have been established they should ‘only be altered in exceptional circumstances’.
Housing need cannot be used to justify ‘inappropriate development’ in the green belt, it said.
The warning was included in new guidance outlining how councils should use local plans to prioritise development on brownfield land and protect green belt.
Announcing the guidance, communities secretary Eric Pickles said: ‘This government has been very clear that when planning for new buildings, protecting our precious green belt must be paramount.
‘Local people don’t want to lose their countryside to urban sprawl, or see the vital green lungs around their towns and cities to unnecessary development.’
He said the guidance would ‘ensure councils can meet their housing needs by prioritising brownfield sites, and fortify the green belt in their area’.
Housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis said: ‘We have put local plans at the heart of the reformed planning system so councils and local people can now decide where development should and shouldn’t go.
‘Support for new housing is growing, because communities welcome development if it is built in the right place and does not ignore their needs.’