Half of Cov green belt lost in year
COVENTRY’S green belt has shrunk from 3,020 hectares in March 2017 to just 1,480 hectares in March this year, government data shows.
Before that, the green belt in Coventry had stayed the same size as it had been since at least March 2010, when the Government’s green belt data records start.
Warwick also lost seven per cent of its green belt, with the amount of protected land falling from 20,550 hectares in 2017 to 19,070 this year.
The drop in Coventry is the largest proportional loss of green belt land seen anywhere in the country - just nine other councils including Warwick agreed to reduce their green belt in the last year, and many of those were by negligible amounts.
The aim of green belt land is to prevent urban sprawl and safeguard the countryside from encroachment, as well as preserving the setting and special character of the landscape.
The government says it attaches “great importance” to green belt land and that, once set, it should only be altered in “exceptional circumstances”.
National planning guidance states: “When considering any planning application, local planning authorities should ensure that substantial weight is given to any harm to the green belt.
“’Very special circumstances’ will not exist unless the potential harm to the green belt, by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.”
Responding to the figures, a council spokesperson said: “The main issue here is that the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government don’t count Local Green Space as part of their definition, so the reduction in our green belt looks higher than it is in reality.
“The real facts for Coventry are that we are allowing development on just 10 per cent of land previously designated as green belt. We also re-designated the remainder of the difference as local green space.”
Green belt is a planning designation. It is land around some of our largest and most historic, towns and cities, covering all land uses. Brownfield, or previously developed land, is, generally land that has been built on before.
Brownfield land can also be found within the green belt.
Greenfield land has never been built on before. Not all greenfield land is designated as green belt.
Coventry has approximately 7,000 housing units on land proposed to be released from the green belt in its local plan.
Because of this, the size of England’s green belt has remained largely stable over recent years, with only a few councils eating into it.
Across the country as a whole, there were 1,629,510 hectares of greenbelt in 2018, compared to 1,634,580 hectares the previous year and 1,639,530 hectares in 2010.
But pressure is growing to build more homes on the green belt because of a worsening housing shortage, particularly in our cities.
In September, we revealed that Coventry could be short of more than 19,000 houses by 2041.
The Office for National Statistics predicts that there will be some 189,000 households living in our city 23 years from now.
Should the number of houses and flats continue to increase at the rate they have been, by 2041 there will be just 169,589 homes available in our city - some 19,400 shy of the number we need.
The eight other councils to approve plans reducing the size of their green belt were Cheltenham, whose green belt shrunk by 33 per cent; Tewkesbury (seven per cent); Sefton (six per cent); Croydon (six per cent); Sunderland (three per cent); Sutton (two per cent); Crewe (one per cent) and Hemel Hempstead (less than one per cent).
According to the council’s Local Plan, the city will grow over the next 14 years, but it will also see the loss of 10 per cent of the city’s green belt.
The key points under the plan would see:
3,000+ homes in Keresley, quadrupling its size. 2,000+ homes in Eastern Green 900 homes in Walsgrave 1,000+ homes in Foleshill and Holbrooks 475 homes in Bablake 285 homes in Longford 250 homes around Tile Hill.