Chancellor’s green belt policy criticised

Michael Lloyd

November 23, 2017

Chancellor Philip Hammond has received some criticism after pledging to protect the green belt in yesterday’s Autumn Budget.

In his speech, Hammond said: “We will focus on the urban areas where people want to live and where most jobs are created. Making best use of our urban land, and continuing the strong protection of our green belt.”

But Rob Clifford, group commercial director of property specialist SDL Group and chief executive of nationwide estate agency Century 21, accused the Chancellor of skirting round the issue of green belt.

He said: “Prior to the budget there had been rumblings that new planning reforms would be introduced for green belt land in a bid to meet the target of building 300,000 homes a year.

“This failed to materialise, with the Chancellor instead focusing on changes to other parts of the planning system to get more permissions granted and force landowners with current planning permission to get building.

“Building on swathes of green belt land is not the answer but we need to see some give somewhere for new developments before the term ‘land shortage’ starts being used.

“I can’t help but feel that the Chancellor skirted around this issue rather than laying out concrete plans.”

Jeremy Duncombe, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, partially blamed outdated green belt rules for the housing crisis.

He said: “A major reason for a shortfall in housing supply is due to our outdated green belt regulations.

“Nimbyism is preventing the homes needed for the next generation from being built and it’s an outdated view that needs to be changed.

“There are some areas of the green belt that are ripe for development, without spoiling the countryside.

“We hope the government will re-consider this issue soon and understand the necessity of modernising legislation to ensure all available land is used as constructively as possible.”

Lewis Johnston, RICS parliamentary and public affairs manager, said that the Chancellor needs to work with local government and introduce a policy of green belt swaps – where the council suggests some protected land is freed up for development.

He said: “If the Chancellor really wants to increase supply to a degree that will transform UK housing, he should implement a comprehensive housebuilding programme incorporating direct commissioning by central and local government.

“There should also be a more fundamental review of the planning system than was announced today, including a policy of green belt swaps so that appropriate sites on the urban edge can be considered for housing supply.”

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