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Campaigners say 70% of 425,000 Green Belt homes planned not ‘affordable’

The Green Belt is under threat in the North West, West Midlands and South East, according to a report.

Hundreds of thousands of houses are planned for Green Belt land, but the vast majority will not be “affordable” homes, campaigners have warned.

Some 425,000 homes are proposed for land released from the Green Belt under local and regional planning policies, analysis by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) suggests, up 150,000 from its last study in March 2016.

The assessment suggests that more than 70% of those homes will not be expected to be “affordable” – with many representing low density development which feeds the high end of the market and does little to address the housing crisis.

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(PA graphics)

Less than one in six homes built on the Green Belt since 2009 outside the provisions of local plans was affordable, it found.

Green Belt – the “countryside next door for 30 million people” which is designated to prevent urban sprawl – is under particular threat in the North West, West Midlands and South East, CPRE’s Green Belt Under Siege report revealed.

It also suggests that the Government’s “new homes bonus” initiative, which aims to relieve the housing crisis by incentivising local authorities to grant planning permission for new homes, will reward councils with £2.4 billion for the 425,000 homes.

The campaign group warned the initiative was rewarding development of Green Belt land which Government policy aims to protect, without providing much needed affordable housing.

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(Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Levels of planned affordable housing on Green Belt are particularly low in the North East and West Midlands, according to the report, which is based on local and city-regional planning policies and data from planning consultants Glenigan.

The Government should help councils build again and help fund genuinely affordable homes, including on small rural sites which can be well designed small scale development which provides affordable housing for local needs in the countryside, CPRE said.

The campaign group also wants a focus on building on brownfield land which is suitable for redevelopment in towns and cities.

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(Gareth Fuller/PA)

Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at CPRE, said: “Green Belt is being lost at an ever faster rate, yet the type of housing being built now or in the future will do very little to address the affordable housing crisis faced by many families and young people.

“We must not be the generation that sells off our precious Green Belt in the mistaken belief it will help improve the affordability of housing.

“The only ones set to benefit from future Green Belt development will be landowners and the big housebuilders, not communities in need of decent, affordable housing.”

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(Andrew Matthews/PA)

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “We do not recognise these figures.

“This Government is committed to protect the Green Belt. Only in exceptional circumstances may councils alter Green Belt boundaries, after consulting local people and submitting the revised local plan for examination.

“We’ve been clear that councils must prioritise development on brownfield land, and announced plans to radically boost brownfield development.”

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