Huge increase in house-building on greenbelt sites

Huge increase in house-building on greenbelt sitesNew research commissioned by the BBC has found that the number of homes given planning permission on green belt land in England has more than doubled in a year, despite Government pledges to protect it.

Glenigan was approached to investigate the number of new homes being approved on greenbelt sites and found that in 2013/14, 5,607 homes were granted permission. In the following year, this had reached 11,977, which also represented a five-fold increase since 2009/10.

These areas are supposedly protected by the Government to ensure large urban areas remain separate from smaller local communities. At present, there are 14 greenbelt areas across the country, with building policies suggesting they should only be developed in circumstances deemed “exceptional”.

The findings were put together for BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme, which approached Brandon Lewis, the Government’s housing and planning minister, who claimed that the issue was down to local councils deciding where to build new homes.

Speaking to the programme, Mr. Lewis said: “We’ve moved away from the top-down approach to planning, we’re very much driving to local plans delivered by the local authority. It is very much a matter of those local authorities.

“They are the best placed people locally – democratically accountable locally – to decide where is the right location for any development.”

High demand for housing has prompted several developers to seek approval to build on green land. Speaking to File on 4, Professor Paul Cheshire of the London School of Economics said: “The area of greenbelt is almost one and half times as much as all the urban areas of England put together, so you only need a tiny amount of the least environmentally attractive green belt to solve the housing crisis for generations to come.”

The latest figures from the National House-Building Council (NHBC) show that 2015 is outperforming new home registration received in 2014, with the number dropping in London. Building on green belt land could explain this, as growth in these figures is being recorded across the UK in less urban areas.

This is putting some local communities at risk, with reports that large house-builders are gaining planning permission over communities, prompting a number of campaigns across the country.

According to the ?Campaign to Get Sussex Building’, volume house-builders are gaining approval to build tens of thousands of new homes across Sussex on greenfield sites, whilst Sussex residents are being refused planning applications to build their own new homes.

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