Local authorities grip on Green Belt land is getting weaker and weaker by the minute as new research suggests that the number of homes being built on Green Belt land is set to soar over the coming years, writes property consultant Richard Carr.
Green Belt development policy is slowly abating as the government responds to the growing housing crisis. An increasing number of loopholes in planning guidance are being found, whilst local councils find themselves under increasing pressure from the government to release Green Belt land for new development through an ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause.
They say that upto 275,000 new developments are planned, which is an increase of a quarter on more than 12 months ago and nearly 200,000 more than when the government introduced its planning reforms back in March 2012.
The local councils of Bradford, Durham and Northumberland have all used the ‘exceptional’ circumstances loophole, with all three saying that economic growth justifies widening their Green Belt boundaries.
Over the past 12 months, four regions and counties have increased the number of planned Green Belt homes by 25% in the last 12 months: Cambridge (27%), London Metropolitan (35%), North East (44%) and the North West (61%).
What Green Belt commitment?
The research seriously questions the government’s commitment to the Green Belt and would contradict the statement PM David Cameron made last year when he claimed that the protection of the ‘precious’ Green Belt was ‘paramount’.
However, last month Communities and Local Government secretary Greg Clark approved planning for 1,500 new homes to be built on Green Belt land between Gloucester and Cheltenham in what will become one of the biggest developments on protected land for a decade.
Richard Carr believes that building on Green Belt land is an inevitable and that the government should be open an honest about the need. At the moment Richard feels like the government are trying to find sneaky ways to allow development to go ahead to save face.