Time To Loosen The Green Belt

Stephen Byfield in Housebuilder Magazine

Published on by Stephen Byfield

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If you were to pick one issue you would like the Government to sort out in the next five years what would it be?    For me it would be Green Belt.

The imposition of the Green Belt around our major cities is planning at its worst.   Introduced to stop sprawl and contain coalescing communities it must go down as one of the best examples of the law of unintended consequences.

The affect, particularly in the superheated economy of London and the South East, has been to severely restrict housing supply in the very area where it is most needed and inexorably push up house prices.   This has forced millions out of the market and locked in profits for a generation of lucky home buyers now in retirement whose interests are now served by opposing future development.

Young people forging a career in London now face decades of renting or the choice of moving out beyond the green belt and commuting to work over long distances.   Towns outside the Green Belt which may have equally attractive countryside as those within it are seeing the bulk of new development.   Housebuilding is restricted and when it does take place it is in areas well away from where it is needed, causing the economy and the environment a huge cost in lost productivity and carbon emissions as people travel long distances to work.

The reason this is perpetuated is because politicians, particularly Conservative politicians who tend to represent the affected seats, are scared that redrawing the Green Belt will be greeted by mass revolts.

But as we have just seen, this is wildly overstated.   Look at what happened in Guildford in the general election.   In the run up to polling day the town was riven by a debate on the Green Belt.   A Council meeting to discuss redrawing Green Belt boundaries was attended by over 350 people and sparked two petitions signed by thousands.   Candidates at the election queued up to show their save the Green Belt credentials.   Concern was such that Susan Parker, a Save the Green Belt candidate stood for Parliament.

And when the votes were counted, how many people cared enough about the issue to vote for this candidate?   538.

Please, if there are any Tory MPs or councillors reading this, do the economy a favour, help the environment and make life better for millions of young people priced out of the housing market.   Allow a redrawing of the Green Belt.

Stephen Byfield

Stephen Byfield about the author…

Stephen has over 25 years experience of complicated communications issues and loves to work on the trickiest and knottiest of client accounts. Stephen founded PPS Group and ran the firm for 26 years before it was acquired by Newgate in 2015.

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