With Britain still struggling to cope with its housing crisis, calls for a rethink of the country’s green belt have grown stronger. In his latest blog, Richard Carr looks at an alternative to help stimulate the country’s housing market.
Is building on green belt land sensible?
Commercial and Residential Development Consultant Richard Carr is an expert at achieving planning permission. His knowledge and experience in the sector has helped him achieve profit on his clients’ investments.
Britain’s green belt has been in place for 100 years, first introduced by Aston Webb, architect of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Its purpose was, and still is, to give residents of cities across Britain the benefits of the country and also to stop curb sprawl.
London, along with 13 other urban areas in England and 10 in Scotland, are surrounded by a green belt, zones that prohibit development. Interestingly, green belt land occupies 13% of the total land area of England, compare that to just 10% for urbanised areas.
Key parties changing sides
Very surprisingly, the London Society, the group which helped create the green belt, is working with commercial real estate company Colliers International on research which looks at the “need to move away from the idea that the countryside is a sacrosanct patchwork of medieval hedgerows” and towards the recognition of “housing as a need to be met in locations with appropriate environmental capacity”.
Professor Paul Cheshire of the London School of Economics is also of the opinion that the green belt could be used to ease the housing crisis. He argues that new houses in Britain 40% more expensive than the Netherlands, which is more densely populated.
According to the Adam Smith Institute, if a strip merely half a mile was shaved off the London green belt, 800,000 new homes could be built.
Concentrate on redeveloping brown field sites
That is the opinion of Richard Carr. In his opinion the gentle release of green belt land in most places would be a mistake. There’s still a substantial amount of brown field sites that need redevelopment, especially in the area that Richard operates in.
He continues, there’s still a ridiculous reluctance with regards to the height of new buildings and he believes that the government should legislate the minimum height of new build in certain areas. Similar to the way they earmarked enterprise zones on a nationwide basis.
Richard believes that this would further encourage the development of run down secondary shopping areas as time constraints could be given to the legislation, which would motivate land owners.