Build on the green belt to solve the housing crisis – Virgin Precious land included!

The 5 Functions of the Green Belt appear to be taking a less important position locally and further afield these days.

The 5 Functions remain enshrined within Planning Policy. Paragraph 80 and 81 reads;

80.   Green Belt serves five purposes:

●● to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
●● to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
●● to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
●● to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
●● to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

81.   Once Green Belts have been defined, local planning authorities should plan positively to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt, such as looking for opportunities to provide access; to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or to improve damaged and derelict land.

All Green Belt within Castle Point serves at least one of these Functions.

Paragraph 81 applies a positive weighting for Green Belt land that serves residents with some form of access to outdoor amenities and pursuits, and as in the case of Canvey Wick improve derelict and damaged land.

Could it be as a distraction from these 5 Functions, that locally more emphasis is placed on re-defining Green Belt as “virgin” or “precious”? This is further complicated by the desire of local councillors to allow development on alternative areas of Green Belt. This proposed act demonstrates the admittance that they consider large scale housing development is necessary.

This policy will add support to developers with proposals ready at hand during the Local Plan process.

Either Green Belt protection is necessary and supported or not!

Developers may point out the contradictory evidence between their own intended developments being Refused, whilst CPBC promotes the inclusion of less politically sensitive Green Belt land for inclusion as housing supply land within a Local Plan.

Remember, whichever sites are allocated will be viewed as a Local Choice!

Oliver Wright of the Independent writes:
“Build on the green belt to solve the housing crisis, say developers”

Experts increasingly believe that the green belt should be reassessed sustainably to address the country’s growing housing needs.

Of all the “sacred cows” in British political life, few are more sacred than England’s cherished green belt.

On 10 July, the Business Secretary Sajid Javid was at pains to emphasise that the Government’s latest plans to relax planning laws to spur on housebuilding would never infringe on the land surrounding towns and cities designated more than 50 years ago to be building-free.

“The green belt can be rightly protected,” he pledged. “There is plenty of land which is not green belt that we can build on and which is suitable for housing and we need to get on with it. We need to find new ways to encourage it.”

But there is a growing belief among planning experts, economists and local government figures that England’s green belt, as currently designated, should be reassessed sustainably to address the country’s growing housing needs.

A recent report by the business group London First found that, in total, urbanised areas cover only 9.9 per cent of England and their actual built area covers 4.2 per cent of the total landmass. In contrast, the green belts around them cover 12.4 per cent of the total area of England.

Jonathan Seager, head of housing policy at London First, said a significant proportion of the green belt was made up of agricultural land with no public access as well as “unloved” scrubland. “The problem with the concept of the green belt is that it has become politically sacrosanct,” he said. “But people forget the green belt can include car parks, old industrial land and scrub that is not of use to anybody.

“There is a strong argument to allow local authorities to make a comprehensive assessment of green belt land to identify areas that could be used to address London’s chronic housing shortages without adversely impacting on the environment.”

Barney Stringer, director of the planning consultancy Quod, which acts on behalf of both local authorities and developers, added that while the emphasis should be on developing brownfield sites, “the housing crisis cannot be solved by brownfield only”.

“The green belt is currently not assessed for its innate value but simply for its location,” he said. “It is wrong to say that all green belt land should be preserved in perpetuity.”
They have been backed by academics and even the OECD, which has concluded that green belts constitute “a major obstacle to development around cities, where housing is often needed”.

But the Council for the Protection of Rural England said that this was missing the point. Matt Thomson, head of planning, said the idea of green belts was primarily to prevent urban sprawl.

“Our view is that green belt is not about protecting the characteristics of the land itself; it is about preventing towns and cities expanding uncontrollably,” he said. “It does not matter how green the green belt is. If you allow any development you provide an incentive to owners to run down their land so it would qualify for building.”


One response to “Build on the green belt to solve the housing crisis – Virgin Precious land included!

  1. Unfortunately this is no longer about saving green belt or preventing inappropriate development on flood plan, or even compromising European safety directives, designed to remove people away from the ramifications of an industrial accident.
    This has now become a matter of the dependency of the Councils future financial stability, materialising from the financial benefits brought about via large scale developments.
    A significant funding gap is forecast in each financial year from 2017/18 which the council has to account for in order to maintain existing levels of public services.
    The Council has already effectively made commitments beyond its means in future year despite expected budget gaps with further planned cut backs in Government grants.
    The position with regards to the Councils reserves would also appear to be serious, there being very real and significant financial risks which may or may not materialise in future years.
    Castle Point Council, needs to stop playing local politics with peoples lives and well being. It needs to trust its community to be able to deal with the realities of the situation. We are constantly reminded by long standing councillors that they live in the real world, what world do they think that their electorate live in?
    The community of CPBC deserves better and it is not unreasonable to expect that those with interests set aside their own aspiration for the benefit of all.

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