New guidance was published on 6th October to reaffirm that the Countries Green Belt should be protected from development.
Local Councils are being encouraged to use their Local Plans and the National Planning Policy Framework to protect a wide spectrum of land with high environmental value: the Green Belt, Local Green Space, sites protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coast or within a National Park or the Broads, designated heritage assets and locations at risk of flooding or coastal erosion from housing development.
Once such areas have been established in a Local Plan they should only be altered to allow development in exceptional circumstances.
The aim of these new guidelines is to encourage Local Authorities to meet their housing need on Brownfield sites.
Eric Pickles said:
“This government has been very clear that when planning for new buildings, protecting our precious green belt must be paramount. Local people don’t want to lose their countryside to urban sprawl, or see the vital green lungs around their towns and cities to unnecessary development.
“Today’s guidance will ensure councils can meet their housing needs by prioritising Brownfield sites, and fortify the green belt in their area.”
The new guidance also states ‘Unmet housing need (including for traveller sites) is unlikely to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and other harm to constitute the “very special circumstances” justifying inappropriate development on a site within the Green Belt.’
As such, the question is whether preventing the use of Green Belt land for residential development will inhibit the Government reaching its new homes targets?
You can read the new guidance for the National Planning Policy Framework on the planning portal website.