BBC uncovers increase in greenbelt land development

Development Specialist Richard Carr is worried by a recent BBC report which shows that building on greenbelt land has soared over the past five years.

Brownfield Sites

Richard CarrRichard Carr, who works for Poole-based Fortitudo Property, believes developers and local councils should concentrate on redeveloping brownfield sites, instead of pushing communities further into greenbelt land.

The BBC’s report detailed worrying figures, which in Richard’s opinion shows that local planning authorities don’t have the resources to do their job correctly.

The number of new homes being approved on greenbelt land in the last year has doubled. In 2009 – 10 planning permission was granted for 2,258 homes, whilst in 2014 – 15 the figure rose to 11,977.

The government has said in the past that looking after greenbelt land was high on its agenda, but it now seems that it’s passing the matter of what land is being developed on over to local planning authorities.

The country has 14 greenbelts which were created to prevent urban sprawl and to split neighbouring towns, however if this trend continues the land between communities could soon decrease.

Housing demand

Local authorities are feeling the heat to meet the government’s new homes target and are turning to greenbelt land to satisfy housing demand.

Hertfordshire is being hardest hit with 34,000 homes already being proposed and a further 10,000 to come. Kevin Fitzgerald from Campaign to Protect Rural England told the BBC: “We are getting continual statements by government ministers, correspondence from government departments to various bodies like to us saying it is their determination to protect the greenbelt and the wider countryside.

“But, nevertheless, throughout our county, our planning authorities are coming out with these proposals for quite major development.”

Passing the buck

As said earlier, the government expressed their desire to protect greenbelt land and encourage brownfield development. However, Planning Minister Brandon Lewis explained the government’s current stance on the matter: “Greenbelt is something that has been there to give a strategic protection to those green lungs. We have outlined what local areas need to do if they want to go through a review of their greenbelt.

“It is very much a matter of those local authorities. They are the best placed people locally, democratically accountable locally, to decide where the right location for any development is.”

Top level laziness

Richard Carr thinks this is a travesty and is just pure laziness and typical of decision making of our time.

It’s easier to just gobble up greenbelt land than to go taller and bolder in design; the other point is that invariably the land that is taken from greenbelt does not need any remediation from contamination so it is a lot cheaper.

He firmly believes that the time has come to encourage tall buildings with iconic designs. The last time he looked Dubai was not two and three storey sprawling over the whole country, it’s condensed tall and proud, what is it with planners in this country!

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