Recent research from Countrywide has discovered a significant reduction in the number of properties built on Greenbelt land during the last 20 years. Countrywide estimates that only 96,000 properties have been built on Greenbelt land since 1995, just 3.5% of the 2.7 million homes built in the UK during this period.
Since the year 2000 the number of new homes built on Greenbelt each year has halved. At its peak in 2001 6,700 homes were built on Greenbelt, this fell to just 3,248 in 2014.
During the last 5 years Greenbelt development has shifted to land surrounding our growing cities in southern England. In 2014 48% of Greenbelt development took place in London, an increase of 38% in 10 years.
Local authorities can grant permission for development in the greenbelt in special circumstances where the benefit from development outweighs perceived harm to the greenbelt.
Whist there are many differing opinions about Greenbelt development, there are lots of common perceptions about what constitutes ‘Greenbelt’ land. Rather than picturesque countryside many of these sites are brownfield, infill sites or unused land with little amenity value.
Continued pressure on housing stock, especially in southern England means that some restrictions may need to be re-considered in light of the requirement for increased house building. Research by Countrywide published in 2015 showed that there is enough unused land in Greenbelt areas within walking distance of 80 railway stations across England, to accommodate nearly half a million new homes. With the current extreme shortage of homes in the UK, maybe we do not have the option of overlooking these potential sites?