Bulldoze more green belt to build new homes

Sam Cordon

July 11, 2013

Haresnape said: “I’m not suggesting we go gung ho and concrete over the whole green belt but selectively and sensibly we should be considering this option instead of saying ‘it’s green belt and therefore not an option’.

“We need to stop builders profiting from land banks so that we can feed through sensible house prices to the market.

“Building on greenbelt in itself is not the answer but a combination of these two approaches will provide an effective solution.”

Haresnape said a lot of protected land is on the fringe of township areas and not right next door to a residential estate.

He added: “These protected areas are in prime locations. There is no point building in the middle of nowhere because there are no jobs to go to.”

A research paper by the think tank Policy Exchange, Why aren’t we building enough attractive homes, claimed 6% to 10% of England has been developed and only 2.3% has been concreted over.

Author of the paper, Alex Morton, said: “We can see there is no overall shortage of land given. For example, in Oxford a hectare of land costs £20,000 for agricultural purposes but £4m for homes. It is artificial scarcity created by planning we are concerned with. Releasing just 2% of our land would allow eight million family homes.”

Haresnape said that the support of the “NIMBY crew” was vital in swaying overall public opinion about the possibility of opening up these sites.

He said: “We need to find a way of encouraging NIMBYs to welcome these initiatives and be more sympathetic to these developments. A reduction in council tax is one option but educating them on the benefits of an increased population in their town is another way. More people in towns means businesses will flourish; people need to be encouraged to see the bigger picture.”

But a written ministerial statement by local government Minister Brandon Lewis, this week, confirmed the increased protection of the green belt by the coalition government.

In a statement originally given at the House of Commons around planning and travellers Lewis said: “The Secretary of State wishes to make clear that, in considering planning applications, although each case will depend on its facts he considers that the single issue of unmet demand, whether for traveller sites or for conventional housing, is unlikely to outweigh harm to the green belt and other harm to constitute the very special circumstances justifying inappropriate development in the green belt.”

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