Time for a greener green belt, says Natural England
10 October 2007
Natural England, the Governmentís statutory advisor on landscape, has assessed the case for a review of green belt policy as part of a fresh approach to greening new development.
The Government is seeking a major expansion in house building for social and economic reasons, with around 3 million new homes planned. Natural Englandís role is to advise on the implications of this for the natural environment, taking into account the impact of a changing climate, whilst ensuring that everybody has access to high-quality green space.
Natural England's Board agreed at its meeting of 10 October the need for a housing policy that puts green space at the heart of all new development - see Natural Englandís pre-scoping paper 'Housing growth and green infrastructure' [90 kb]
Sir Martin Doughty, Natural Englandís Chair, said: ďThe time has come for a greener green belt. We need a 21st century solution to England's housing needs which puts in place a network of green wedges, gaps and corridors, linking the natural environment and people."
Englandís 14 green belts surround major urban conurbations and cover 13% of the country. They were established in the 1950s to contain urban sprawl. Since then there has been little environmental improvement in the quality of these areas. They contain much land that is neglected or of poor environmental quality.
The board of Natural England proposes that the following principles are adopted:
- Englandís towns and cities are Ďgreenedí by putting green spaces at the heart of all new development.
- The most sustainable solution of where to locate new housing is sought including a review of the role of the green belt, taking into account quality of life, nature conservation, landscape protection, flood mitigation and the impact of a changing climate.
- The land in and around Englandís 14 green belts is Ďgreenedí. Englandís green belts cover 13% of the country - 1.65 million hectares, or an area bigger than all of Englandís National Parks combined Ė and is currently often neglected or of poor environmental quality.