Report suggesting building homes on green belt is flawed, says environmental campaigning group

A report by a UK think tank suggesting that proposed housing by government may have to be built on green belt land is simplistic and provides an incomplete snapshot 'that misrepresents the dynamic nature of real world of planning and development', says a senior planner from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The reactions follow last week’s release of a report by the Social Market Foundation (the SMF) – a UK-based think tank – which says that there is not enough brownfield land in the UK to support government’s house-building plans.

UK Government has promised to build 3 million homes by 2020, as well as raising annual house-building target for 2016 from 200,000 new homes to 240,000.

In their report, the SMF asks where all of these new houses will go. They suggest that the UK would ‘fall short’ with current amount of brownfield land and would have to go on the green belt or undeveloped countryside in order to meet targets.

“The debate is not well-served by this report from the Social Market Foundation,” Kate Gordon, a senior planner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, told Edie.

“[The report] seriously underestimates the amount and capacity of brownfield land available for housing and fails to recognise the benefits of Green Belt controls.”

The CPRE says that by relaxing planning controls over development in the Green Belt, this would unleash a wave of unsustainable urban sprawl and damage the countryside.

Instead, the focus should be making the best use of existing developed land in meeting UK housing needs with well-designed, environmentally sustainable and affordable homes, while protecting the Green Belt.

“There should be a mature, well informed and evidence-based public debate about how we can achieve these objectives.” CPRE’s Kate Gordon said.

Dana Gornitzki

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