Greenbelt sellers ‘mislead their clients

Green belts around cities are under threat from companies buying up protected greenfield land for house-building, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

Town councils are being urged to urgently step up protection of the green belt, which is aimed at preventing urban sprawl, from “landbanking” companies that buy up chunks of the land to then resell it to potential house-builders at inflated prices.

The practice misleads people into thinking that current strict planning restrictions on green belts may soon be lifted, the LGA said. Because they are not, “landbanking” can turn green areas around cities into fenced-up, abandoned areas that can become neglected.

The LGA issued guidance to town councils to help them prevent the phenomenon. Chair of the LGA’s environment board David Sparks said: “Town halls are taking decisive action to protect the countryside and to make sure that people are not misled.

“Plots of protected land have been ruined by stakes being driven into the ground to mark out plots. Councils will use all powers at their disposal to protect rural land, particularly in the green belt and areas of outstanding national beauty.”

Landbanking companies are not breaking the law, but they do mislead their clients, said the LGA.

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