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Green Belt development should not just be for starter homes

150 150 Aston Mead Land and Planing | Land with development potential across Surrey

Leading land broker Aston Mead Land & Planning has welcomed new government consultation proposing to allow thousands of new homes to be built on Green Belt land, but say that the proposals don’t go far enough.

The company was responding to news that the proposed relaxation of planning rules published this week will allow councils to allocate appropriate small-scale sites in the Green Belt specifically for starter homes.

Aston Mead Land & Planning Director Adam Hesse said: “At last the government has recognised that the current concept of the Green Belt has reached the end of its useful life. Starter homes are a start – but the mistake they are making is to limit development to this category only. We have 14 million more people in the UK today than in 1955 when the Green Belt was introduced – so we need more three and four bedroom homes to be constructed on those sites as well.

“Once you’ve accepted that some parts of the Green Belt can be built on, the focus should shift to deciding which specific areas can be lost to development. Some are beautiful, pristine green sites that should be protected at all costs. But others – for example, those around the junctions of established road networks – are such a grubby green they are almost grey!”

Adam Hesse says that now these proposals have been suggested from the very top, it’s up to local councils to play a proactive part in the process.

He explained: “Local authorities are some of the biggest landowners in the country. Very often they are sitting on land which would be ideal for development. Once it has been released, they will still be able to control the planning stipulations, and the design of the eventual build.

“Even the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) admits that the current policy isn’t working. So let’s grade the greenbelt into those areas which should never be built on, as well as those which could be declassified – often places which many people would be surprised to discover were considered ‘Green Belt’ in the first place.

“I’m thinking of the ‘grubby greenbelt’ between large towns which have almost merged anyway – just as the London villages of Kensington, Earl’s Court and Notting Hill originally had green space between, but are now ‘villages’ within the larger mass of the capital city.”