Public misconceptions about the amount of built up land in the UK is skewing the debate on future development requirements.
A recent survey by Ipsos Mori revealed the average Briton believes that almost half the country has already been concreted over. So it’s hardly surprising that new road, rail and housing schemes frequently run up against fierce opposition.
Developers have been accused of concreting over the country, when in fact they are scarcely scratching the surface.
In reality just 0.1 percent of the UK is densely built on – or ‘continuous urban fabric’.
Farmland accounts for more than fifty six per cent of land use, with another 35 per cent still in its natural state. Green urban areas account for 2.5 per cent with just 5.9 per cent built on to some extent or other.
This fundamentally distorted view of what our countryside actually looks like is bound to skew opinions when development schemes are brought forward locally or nationally.
The fundamental misconceptions on land use in the UK means schemes are being considered in a virtual hall of mirrors, to a greater or lesser extent steered by TV and media coverage which has left the average person in the street with a completely wrong idea of their surroundings and landscape.
Demonstrators vowing to protect every square inch of their open space are often doing so in the mistaken belief Britain is running out of it.
Angry NIMBYs decrying developers and politicians, accusing them of gobbling up all our green fields makes for great viewing on the local news channels.
But we believe the public should have a full understanding of the wider picture before they are asked to consider new housing schemes, road or rail routes or other development.
Whilst the very low percentages of existing built development within the country does not mean each and every planning application should be allowed, the UK is not the concrete jungle many would have us believe.