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Why we need reform of the green belt in London and the South East

Recent reports by the London Society and the Adam Smith Institute demonstrate there is growing evidence that a comprehensive review of the purpose of the Green Belt in London and the South East is required. London simply cannot meet its housing targets without it.

Did you know?

  • Only 9% of England is developed
  • 13% of England is green belt
  • Green belts have more than doubled in size since 1979 to 1.6m hectares (3,953,686 acres)

The Planning Inspector examining the Further Alterations to the London Plan recently concluded that whilst finding the Plan sound he did so on the understanding there will be an urgent review to determine how the 6,000 homes that London cannot provide each year will be met.

As the London Society’s research report ‘Green Sprawl’ noted ‘Whilst green belt policy can’t be seen in isolation from far greater issues than purely London’s current requirement for 1 million new homes, such development over the next 15 years is deliverable without impacting too significantly upon the overall size of the city’s green belt.

The Adam Smith’s Institute found that London’s housing crisis could be greatly eased by building one million new homes on just 3.7% of the intensively farmed agricultural land within the Green Belt that is within a 10 minute walk of a train station and therefore with easy access to central London.

Whilst we all recognise a review of the Green Belt won’t happen in the run-up to the general election it will need to be a priority for whichever Party comes to power, as part of the call by the ‘Homes for Britain’ campaign for any new government to commit to end the housing crisis within a generation.


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Written by Mike Lambert | Posted on 4th February 2015

Mike Lambert FRSA, MRTPI, MCMI (57) is Planning Director of Countryside’s New Homes and Communities division. A town planner by profession, Mike has worked in both the private and public sectors and has overseen a wide range of large and small scale development. He was previously Chief Executive Officer at Renaissance Southend Ltd, where he was responsible for co-ordinating the investment plan for the town as part of the Thames Gateway initiative.

  • nae a belger

    This is absolutely right. The best idea for the green belt is abolition.
    The only problem is that it would be a massive windfall to the owners of the agricultural land which would now be residential.