Report calls for Green Belt land to be 'selectively declassified with a presumed right to development’

The report ‘Raising the Roof: How to solve the United Kingdom’s housing crisis’, published on 22 July 2019 by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), states the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act “put land use under unprecedented statutory control, and the resulting regulation has caused at least half the rise in house prices over the last generation”.

The report also explains that Green Belts created under measures set out in the 1947 Act “have grown far beyond what was planned, more than doubling in size since the 1970s, taking in derelict and already developed land, leading to building on more attractive areas”.

To help tackle this, the report is clear that, where Green Belt land is not meeting its purposes as set out in the NPPF – including checking the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas and preventing neighbouring towns merging into one another – such land should be “declassified”.

The report says that for this to work, “central government will need to categorise where Green Belt land has become low-quality. This implies initial central activity to help free a local market, but where Green Belt has not succeeded in its aim of environmental and aesthetic preservation, it is logical that it can be declassified. The majority of the Green Belt will remain and will still be able to prevent disliked urban sprawl.”

The report also adds that “Green Belt land near transport hubs should be a declassification priority, including metropolitan Green Belt land within realistic walking distance of a railway station”.

Is this going to change the UK’s housing crisis? Watch this space…

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