HALF of Coven­try’s green belt lost in the last year

Warwickshire Telegraph - - NEWS - By AN­NIE GOUK & JOHN CARLON

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.

Green belt protesters in Coven­try city cen­tre

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