Debate continues on Sites for New Housing Developments…

Green Belt Land or Brown Field Sites?

Whilst no one would deny that the sign of growth in the economy evident in the upturn of the building of new homes is positive, there is disagreement as to where the new homes should be built.

The Governments’ new  ‘Help to Buy Scheme’  which enables people with a deposit of as little as 5% to buy a ‘new build’ has significantly boosted the building industry with reports of a potential shortage of skilled trades to meet demand (CSN January 2014).  With relaxed planning laws, a significantly higher proportion of larger scale housing developments are been passed.

There is significant support to protect Green Belt Land with concerns to the degree that large new developments requiring supporting infrastructures are impacting the countryside.  Whilst current Government Policy is to build on ‘Brownfield’ first,  building in towns and cities on Brownfield sites can be a costly and risky choice for developers,  incurring costs of clearing and preparing the land and in some cases decontamination of the site.  Whilst incentives such as tax breaks exist to encourage building in urban areas, it is argued that documentation and procedures required to access these discourage developers from applying.

Those in support of building on Brownfield sites point out that industrial land in urban areas with infrastructure already in place could provide around 1.5 million homes.  Opposing views stress that currently only 8% of Green Belt Land has been built on and call for more building on green land and a review of Green Belt rules to make the process more straight forward. Lord Wolfson has argued that there is wasted, flat green land – not used for leisure or agriculture and that isn’t flood plain, which could be used for building. He also suggests that political parties should consider a review of the National Planning Policy Framework which was introduced in March 2012, which he states is still a barrier to gaining planning permission for new developments.

The Governments’ Planning minister Nick Boles, has today (7th May), stated that Green Belt Land will be protected  but that it has to be accepted however,  that more than 1,500 square miles of countryside will have to be built on to meet demand.

Use this interactive map to identify Green Belt areas where you live:



Source: Interactive Map: Daily Telegraph