Government to use Green Belt land for New Houses.

by Mark Johnston

Government to use Green Belt land for New Houses.

It appears that rural sites are under threat from plans to develop homes, new roads and industrial sites to help kick-start the economy, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) claimed.

Recent changes to the planning system have prompted concerns that protection for the green belt will be weakened.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The Green Belt is an important protection against urban sprawl, providing a ‘green lung’ around towns and cities.

In March 2012, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published a new planning framework which included a section ensuring green belt land is protected.

The coalition government has suggested that restrictions on building new houses on green field sites should be eased over the next three years to provide a fillip to the construction industry.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, has said that planning laws could be streamlined to boost the economy. A Bill next month could detail moves to lift restrictions on development in the countryside.

Senior planning officer for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Paul Miner said the government should “look to regenerate urban areas rather than build on unspoilt green space”.

The Commission for Rural Communities said the new National Planning Policy Framework would allow more appropriate housing to be built for pensioners in remote parts of the country.

They added that “We believe that the National Planning Policy Framework will assist in helping local people determine the numbers and types of housing available. It is crucial that Government monitors its success.”

 Some government officals believe that these reforms should require developers to pay compensation to residents for building on green belt land nearby, and to ensure that new housing estates include outdoor spaces.

However, Clive Betts, the Labour MP and chairman of the local government select committee, said: “We have to be very careful about developers effectively paying a bribe to communities to accept something.”

This said, George Osborne’s new push to overhaul planning laws is unwelcome, misjudged and could end up reducing the number of houses that are built, the country’s most senior planning officer has said.

Experts feel that ministers have misjudged the problems of the property industry, and believe that developers’ actually lack finance and also the weak state of the economy are the real obstacles to building, not red tape.

Shaun Spiers, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) chief executive, accused the Chancellor of trying to blame planning regimes for “bigger economic difficulties”.

He adds that “In times of economic slowdown, politicians can sometimes be tempted by the false promise of an easy construction boom. But destroying the countryside is not the path to lasting economic prosperity.

Landscape Institute president Sue Illman says “It is not sustainable to develop on Green Belt land; nor is it sustainable to allow suburban estates to sprawl out into the countryside”.

Campaigners have stated that ministers have consistently maintained that they value the green belt and want to see it protected. Therefore they now feel that now is the time to put these words into action.



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