Do policy changes mean green light for green belt building?
to assess the amount and nature of land that could be made available for development to meet its target for new housing. This assessment, along with a range of other documents, is used to inform the preparation of a development plan by the council, which will identify and allocate land for housing. It will be subject to community consultation and examined by an Independent Planning Inspector at Public Inquiry.
The assessment is compiled from sites identified by the council and submitted by landowners and developers. It is important to note that a site’s inclusion within this document does not necessarily mean it will be allocated for housing and any allocation would need to be tested against the principles of the National Planning Policy Framework.
The recently released National Planning Policy Framework seeks to balance the economic, social and environmental roles of the planning system in order to promote sustainable development.
While sustainable economic growth and the delivery of new housing are core planning principles within the framework so to is the need to protect the green belt and to recognise the intrinsic value and beauty of the countryside. So any arguments you and your neighbours have against development will be strong and will certainly be taken into consideration.
The framework makes clear that allocations of land for development should first focus on land of lesser environmental value and that council’s should encourage the re-use of land that has been previously developed. This is known as brownfield land.
The Government has made it very clear that Green Belt policy remains unchanged. The purpose being, amongst other things, to restrict urban sprawl and to safeguard the countryside. They have stressed that very special circumstances will still be required to allow housing development within it.
The Local Plan will remain the key document guiding strategic development .This will seek to balance the economic, social and environmental dimensions of the planning system and try to accommodate growth in the most appropriate and sustainable way. While the Plan can include reviews of Green Belt boundaries and consider housing allocations on green field land, they should also identify land where development would be inappropriate because of its environmental significance. Crucially, the National Planning Policy Framework retains a wide range of guidance which seeks to protect land of significant environmental value and the recognition of the intrinsic value of the countryside and retention of Green Belt Policy emphasises this. Unfortunately only time will tell the full impact that these changes in planning policy will have on our landscape.