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Leading local estate agents Aston Mead say that Surrey and Berkshire should start to grade their greenbelt land, in order to provide land for local housebuilding

Their comments come following the release of new government statistics which show that only half the required number of new homes are being built in England each year.

The figures indicate that between April 2014 and March 2015, just 125,000 homes were built in the country – far short of the 245,000 target widely accepted as the number needed simply in order to keep up with demand.

Aston Mead Director Adam Hesse said: “The truth is, there’s a national housing crisis out there and Surrey and Berkshire are perfectly placed to spearhead a drive to help solve it. The answer lies in the sensible use of what I would call ‘grubby greenbelt’ – some of which is completely unremarkable and would actually be enhanced by being built on.”

Adam Hesse explained that a grading of greenbelt land would allow it to be properly assessed, with the most valuable being retained and the least valuable released for housebuilding.

He added: “There’s no doubt that some of the greenbelt in this region absolutely must be protected at all costs; it’s beautiful, unique, and of real benefit to the area. However, there are hundreds of acres of less desirable land – such as that next to motorway junctions - that that doesn’t do anything for anyone and is of no real merit. Our extensive local motorway network means that there is potentially enough adjacent land around the M25, M3 and M4 for thousands of new homes to be built.

“Don’t forget – greenbelt land has no inherent ecological or agricultural value, nor is it chosen because it has natural beauty or protected wildlife. It’s only function was to stop urban sprawl. But it has singularly failed to do that and has instead just pushed housing further out into the countryside, resulting in higher commuting costs.

“What’s more, the greenbelt acts as a wall that confines urban dwellers at increasingly higher densities, and is partly the reason why house prices are out of reach for so many.

“It’s all very well wanting to protect every scrap of greenbelt we’ve got. But we should also consider where our children and grand-children are going to live – and if houses are going to be available for them, building on ‘grubby’ greenbelt may be the only realistic option left open to us.”

 
 

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