Green Belt Growth in England

Figures published on 16 September 2022 show that the extent of land in the Green Belt in England has increased for the first time since the methodology was introduced in 2014.  The amount of land in the Green Belt has gone up by 1.5% from 31 March 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Media reporting often gives the impression that England is a crowded land, with a diminishing Green Belt.  In fact, 11% of the land area in England is “built up” and 12.6% is Green Belt.  Just over 37% of the land area is protected against development by one or more designations (including National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest).

The recent changes to Green Belt do not simply indicate that additional land has been ear marked for protection.  The figures take England as a whole.  There are areas of no change; areas of Green Belt release; areas where boundaries have been redrawn with no net effect; and areas with additional Green Belt allocations.

It is important to balance is the need for development land in sensible locations and to restrict urban sprawl and maintain openness.  This is a difficult, political, task.  Everyone knows there is a housing shortage, everyone knows the Green Belt is precious.  However, the term “Green Belt” conjures images of beautiful countryside and this does not necessarily match reality.   

The Green Belt gains in the last year are in Northumberland.  The extent of Green Belt there grew by 61%.  Other areas had small reductions, the largest of those is in Halton.  In that district land was removed from the Green Belt to provide development sites.  The proposals that come forward to build on those sites will be required to make compensatory improvements to the quality and accessibility of the remaining Green Belt.

Posted on 6 October, 2022 by Ortolan

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