A Ray of Hope for Green Belt Protection

In recent years, local councils have been required to plan for large numbers of new homes in their areas. Target numbers have been calculated using methodologies set by national Governments and the targets have been mandatory. In areas such as the Chilterns where a large proportion of the land is designated as Green Belt, this has encouraged local councils to remove land from the Green Belt to provide significant development sites. Concerns over Green Belt development have led to delays in Local Plans such as Buckinghamshire, Dacorum and Three Rivers.

Now there is at least a ray of hope! The Government has published amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework, which sets out planning policies at a national level.

The major change proposed is that local councils will no longer be required to take land out of the Green Belt if that is the only way they can meet their housing targets. These housing targets will now become advisory rather than mandatory. Although the Council will still be able to choose Green Belt sites in exceptional circumstances, pressure should be taken off allocating large sites in open countryside for development.

This has not yet been adopted as national policy but it will at least go some way to saving the Green Belt from excessive development. Watch this space!

The Chiltern Society has submitted a detailed response on the proposed amendments to the Framework and this can be viewed here.