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England’s green belt under extreme pressure as planned developments increase four-fold in eight years

Written by on 25 February 2021

The number of houses planned to be built on former green belt land in England has increased four-fold in the last eight years.

Green belt land, which is legally protected from development, is facing extreme and sustained pressure, according to a new report from countryside charity CPRE.

In Calderdale in West Yorkshire, the council wants to build 10,000 homes over ten years – 600 of them on green belt land next to Greetland village, which has a population of 11,000.

Calderdale Council reviewed its green belt land in 2017 and concluded that some of it could be developed under “exceptional circumstances such as unmet housing or employment land needs that cannot be met elsewhere”.

The proposed development in Greetland is part of the council’s local plan which is currently going through a planning inspector’s examination process, with the next round of hearings expected in the summer.

Lyndsey Ashton, who lives next to the proposed development, set up the Greetland Pressure Group to fight the plans and said she now has 1,400 members.

“This is unsustainable. It’s neglecting the environment in favour of developers cherry-picking beautiful spots to build expensive homes,” she said.

Crispin Truman, the chief executive of CPRE, which is supporting the Greetland campaigners, said their research shows developments on former green belt land on average have fewer affordable homes and fewer homes per acre.

“To see the growing level of threat faced by the green belt, the countryside next door for millions of people living in our towns and cities, is extremely worrying,” he said.

Planning laws are strict for developing green belt land Image: Campaigners say the green belt faces a ‘growing level of threat’

“The government can and must act to stop the loss of green belt and ensure greater access to nature and green space is at the heart of our planning system.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the housing ministry said: “Protecting the green belt is a priority and our national planning policy reinforces regenerating brownfield sites and prioritising urban areas.

“Our reforms to the planning system will protect our cherished countryside and green spaces as well as deliver high-quality and sustainable homes.”