Beyond the Green Belt  


There are 14 Green Belts in England — ranging from c.516,000 ha in the London belt, to just 700 ha at Burton-on-Trent. Green Belt totals c.1,600,000 ha, 13 per cent of all land in England.

Use the map below to interact with a detailed view of Green Belt locations. Source: Alasdair Rae, University of Sheffield

In December 2015 the Government launched the consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy, with a submission deadline of 22 February 2016. This sought ‘views on specific changes to national planning policy to support the delivery of new homes...’ While expressing commitment to the Green Belt, the document suggests brownfield land in the Green Belt could be released for starter homes.

Planning guidance already permits some development in Green Belt. The 2012 framework states a local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in Green Belt. Exceptions to this are:

  • Buildings for agriculture and forestry;
  • Provision of appropriate facilities for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation and for cemeteries, as long as it preserves the openness of the Green Belt and does not conflict with the purposes of including land within it;
  • The extension or alteration of a building provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building;
  • The replacement of a building, provided the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces;
  • Limited infilling in villages, and limited affordable housing for local community needs under policies set out in the Local Plan; or
  • Limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development.

Input into that consultation, along with public and private lobbying, will have ranged from complete ‘hands off the Green Belt’ to opening up significant patches of land to the developer.

Here we showcase a range of the conflicting opinions (including allowing them to keep their conflicting style rules for ‘Green Belt’):


Paul Cheshire, professor emeritus for economic geography at the London School of Economics, undergoes a grilling from Conor Gearty, Director of the Institute of Public Affairs and Professor in Human Rights Law. Cheshire is a leading proponent of the case for building on the Green Belt to help relieve the housing crisis.

Source: London School of Economics;

Part of 'Beyond the Green Belt'