Call for a major re-evaluation of our Green Belt as housing development turns the screw on the UK’s open space.
Town Planner Paul Barton is based at the firm’s Gloucester office says almost every region of the UK is affected by growing demand for new housing.
“Recent press reports have concentrated on the impact of new housing on the Green Belt around London but pressure points are developing all over the country.”
According to the Council for the Protection of Rural England plans are in place to build 123,000 new homes on more than 200 sites within the Capital’s Green Belt.
A further 16,245 are planned in the Green Belt in the South West.
“In the South East, our Guildford office has flagged up the vast discrepancy in supply and demand, with house prices averaging £340,000 and almost ninety per cent of the borough in the Green Belt.
“The borough council faces a thankless task trying to balance development imperatives given intense opposition from residents’ groups who have described the new Guildford Town Plan as ‘growth gone mad!”
Paul said the problem was just as acute in Gloucester where smaller urban extensions of up to 500 homes have been authorised.
Schemes at Innsworth, South Churchdown, Brockworth, and North West Cheltenham had met the planning inspector’s ‘exceptional circumstances’ test.
Nearer Bristol, builder Taylor Wimpey is carrying out an environmental impact assessment on its plans to build up to 4,500 homes on a 305 hectare site at The Vale – also within the Green Belt.
Paul said: “The Green Belt has been reduced by more than 1,000 hectares in the 12 months to the end of March and eight local authorities have adopted plans with revised boundaries.
“Looking across the country it is clear our Green Belt is reaching breaking point. It is inevitable we will need to build more within its boundaries.”
Set up during the 1930s, the Green Belt was once held to be sacrosanct.
“We need to accept we have moved on since the 1930s and that Churchillian resistance to sustainable development is neither helpful nor realistic. In our view the Green Belt should be fully re-evaluated before the whole mechanism is completely discredited.”
Bruton Knowles has also called on stakeholders to ensure all suitable Brownfield Land is developed in order to reduce pressure on the Green Belt.
“But Brownfield sites have been slow coming forward and are not yet delivering the affordable housing the Government is demanding – largely due to viability issues.
“Bruton Knowles has been lobbying for years to ensure that all suitable brownfield sites in and around our major cities is fully regenerated, reducing the requirement for green field sites to be earmarked for housing,” he said.
“But we believe the time has come for a robust review of our Green Belt as it is rapidly losing credibility in the face of unprecedented demand for more housing.”