The London Green Belt Council and CPRE London have published a joint report “‘Safe Under Us?’ An investigation into widespread threats from housebuilding in the London Metropolitan Green Belt”
The report shows that government policies and sanctions appear to be forcing councils to release Green Belt land for development.
Drawing on local evidence provided by CPRE branches in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, London and Surrey, the report demonstrates that the London Green Belt is likely to be under greater threat than ever. There are now plans for 203 sites within the London Green Belt including proposals for 123,528 homes. Within the 42 local planning authorities that were surveyed covering nearly 84% of all London Green Belt land, the majority of the proposed homes (94%) are on sites allocated by councils in their Local Plan documents. The London Green Belt is also under pressure from infrastructure such as schools and roads.
The report finds that there is national pressure being applied to Local Planning Authorities to deliver inflated housing targets. These targets are being inflated by unrealistic economic growth forecasts, forcing councils to give up Green Belt land.
The government’s planning framework states that only ‘exceptional’ circumstances should allow building on Green Belt land. However, unclear national planning guidance and confusing government messages are causing councils to believe that in order to gain national approval of their Local Plans, they must meet higher targets. This is causing them to look at Green Belt land to meet housing growth figures.
Richard Knox-Johnston, Chair of the London Green Belt Council said: “Promises were made in the Conservative general election manifesto that the Green Belt would be “Safe under us”. However, councils are telling their residents that there is no alternative but to build in the Green Belt. Our evidence shows that in spite of the government’s promise, councils are responding to a series of national messages and policies which forces them to release Green Belt land to receive financial incentives and avoid sanctions.
“The system is clearly not working and is not protecting the Green Belt. It seems likely that the government target of two million homes by 2020 will not be met due to land banking and hoarding. By not taking action to unlock the land which already has planning permission, more pressure is being put on Green Belt land. We now need government to appreciate that this situation is not acceptable and to introduce measures to reinstate the protection of Green Belt as a matter of urgency.”
John Croxen, Chair of CPRE London, said: “With the new government under Theresa May and her new Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, saying the Green Belt is ‘absolutely sacrosanct’ there is now an opportunity for government to change direction. We must keep up the pressure to ensure real protection for London’s Green Belt.”
For further information or interview call:
Richard Knox-Johnston, Chair of London Green Belt Council 01795844086 or 07899795386
Alice Roberts, Head of Green Space Campaigns CPRE London 07792942691
In the recent Queen’s speech, the government’s pre-election commitment to protect the Green Belt was reiterated but with little further detail. However, in partnership with eight CPRE branches in and surrounding London, the London Green Belt Council (LGBC) has just published a map of the extensive threats from development to London’s Green Belt. It shows nearly 200 threatened sites along with proposals to build 118,000 homes. There is a clear mismatch between the government’s commitment to protect our Green Belt and the impact of its policies on the ground. We believe that our MPs will want to understand this mismatch so … Read more
Alice Roberts of CPRE London, a member of the London Green Belt Council, appeared on London Live news in April talking about the welcome commitments from London Mayoral candidates to protect London’s Green Belt. But Alice also pointed to the Prime Minister’s pre-election promise that the ‘Green Belt will be safe with us’, which she said has not been adhered to, and that CPRE London would be monitoring green belt planning referrals to the new Mayor to ensure promises are kept. … Read more
Richard Knox-Johnston’s letter, responding to an article by Juliet Samuel “We are being strangled by the Green Belt” was published in the Saturday Telegraph 23 April 2016 … Read more
London Green Belt Council has responded to DCLG’s consultation on proposed changes to the NPPF, setting out its concerns about the gradual erosion of Green Belt protection. We worry that reference to starter homes on Green Belt land is the thin end of the wedge which will give developers and land-bankers arguments to grab yet more of the Green Belt, even while other developable land is available. You can read our full response here, with its covering letter here. … Read more
Richard Knox-Johnston attended a high profile event held by the RTPI in the run up to the London Mayoral 2016 election. Raising questions from the floor, Richard challenged the idea that London’s Green Belt must be released for housing to be built on it, pointing out that many thousands of houses which have been granted planning permission are waiting to be built, that there are plenty of brownfield sites aside.
It was standing room only at the Epping Society meeting on the Green Belt, as an audience of over 200 people engaged with presentations by Richard Knox Johnston, Chair of the London Green Belt Council, Eleanor Lang, the Local MP and other representatives from Epping District and Town Councils. Despite many Local residents stated that they were anxious regarding the future of the Green Belt many also commented that it was great to see such passion and support for it. The Epping Forest Guardian had this to say. … Read more
Richard Knox-Johnston, Chair of the London Green Belt Council, wrote to the London Evening Standard: “Further to the report A garden of one’s own, Tom Papworth is misguided in his thinking on the Green Belt. “First, we already have excellent high density housing of 100 homes per hectare in London which is not high rise. They are the Georgian and Edwardian squares in Kensington and Chelsea which are very popular places to live. So not all dwellings have to be skyscrapers. Second, building on Green Belt land would provide expensive homes because they are built in the Green Belt, so … Read more
Richard Knox Johnston, Chair of the LGBC and a Trustee of CPRE Kent which is also a member of LGBC, has met with MPs in Kent to discuss planning issues. The focus of discussions was landbanking – the process by which developers are holding back building homes on acquired sites to help boost profits – and the impact of unrealistic housing targets.
The Conservative candidate for London Mayor has pledged his support to local campaigners at Save Oakfield Site. In a visit to the iconic Oakfield Sports Ground he supported calls to prevent these highly valued playing fields being sold off by the Council for development through its local plan. … Read more