Green Belts from Newcastle to Bournemouth

England's Green Belt

To maximise profitability, there is constant pressure (to release Green Belt land) on local authorities from the housebuilding industry. CPRE (The Campaign to Protect Rural England) estimated that Fifty Thousand Homes have been built on Green Belt land in the last ten years. Councils across England have approved plans for 275,000 homes on Green Belt land, including 117,000 on the London Metropolitan Green Belt (LMGB). In 2018 the number of new houses proposed on land in the LMGB has increased by 43,000 (a 27% increase).

History of Green Belt

In 1898 Sir Ebenezer Howard OBE published To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform. He described a utopian city in which people live harmoniously together with nature. The publication resulted in the founding of the garden city movement, and the building of the First Garden City, Letchworth Garden City, commenced in 1903.

The first Green Belts were designated around London assisted by the Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act 1938. The Green Belt as we now know it started on 3rd August 1955 with a Circular from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government calling on Planning Authorities to establish Green Belts.

Green Belts have been one of the most enduringly successful and popular elements of the post-World War 2 planning reforms. In 1988 the Principles of the Green Belt were incorporated in Planning Policy Guidance Note No. 2 (PPG2) issued by the Government. PPG2 has now been superseded by the National Planning Policy Framework and it is a credit to the drafters of the 1955 circular that so much of their work can still be seen as the basis of the NPPF.

What Happens without Green Belts

Green Belts have helped to maintain a clear distinction between town and country which can be lacking in some other parts of the world. The poet Andrew Motion said Since 1940, the population of Los Angeles has grown at about the same rate as the population of London. Los Angeles is now so enormous that if you somehow managed to pick it up and plonk it down on England, it would extend from Brighton on the south coast to Cambridge in the north-east. That's what happens if you don't have a green belt.