Government must stop development threats to Green Belt

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has called on the Government to step in and put a stop to development proposals that could impact England's Green Belt policy.

Development proposals include over 80,000 new houses, new roads, open cast coal mines, an airport expansion, golf courses and industrial parks.

The Green Belt, which is a policy for controlling urban growth and maintaining countryside in England, covers 1,619,835 hectares (6254 square miles), a total of 12.4% of England’s total landscape.

According to the CPRE the proposals amount to the development of a new town greater than the size of Slough over the next twenty years.

In July 2010 Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, announced that he would abolish regional planning, so that local people could better protect Green Belts around towns and cities across the country. However, according to the CPRE the level of threat still remains.

Senior planning officer for CPRE, Paul Miner, said: “The Green Belt is the most popular planning policy in England and the envy of the world. It helps regenerate our cities and stops them sprawling into rural areas. As a result, no one is ever too far from true, green English countryside.

“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.

“Sustainable economic improvement can only come from the sort of urban regeneration that has already done much to rejuvenate many of our largest cities.”

The CPRE said in a statement that it is vital that the Government steps in to ensure ‘smart growth’, which focuses investment and development within existing urban areas, rather than allowing the unnecessary loss of Green Belt land.

The organisation added that Ministers should stick to their commitments to protect the Green Belt by actively monitoring major planning applications in the Green Belt as well as the proportion of new housing on brownfield sites.

Mr Miner said: “Ministers have consistently maintained that they value the Green Belt and want to see it protected. Now is the time to put these words into action.”

Leigh Stringer

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