The Bath Green Belt

The Bath Green Belt

New Government data backs CPRE Green Belt figures


New statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show the largest increase in the amount of Green Belt land released for housing to date

An analysis of the new Government data released today (4 October) by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) shows that since 2012 almost 10,000 hectares of Green Belt land have been released from ‘protected’ Green Belt boundaries by local councils. Ten councils have together released more than 5,000 hectares in the past year alone [1].

CPRE claim that a combination of unrealistic housing targets set by the Government, capacity of the housebuilding industry and slow build out rates on land already granted planning permission has created a perfect storm that has resulted in this consistent erosion of the Green Belt.

Green Belt land is some of the most profitable for developers to build on due to it being ‘shovel ready’, surrounded by countryside and within commuting distance to major towns and cities – making its release for development extremely desirable for housebuilders. This leaves councils to foot the bill for resulting infrastructure requirements, such as schools, shops and roads.

CPRE points out that national planning rules require councils to deliver housing targets that housebuilders and developers are failing to meet. Developers have consistently argued for higher housing figures as part of an opaque process in determining housing demand. This has resulted in constant pressure on councils to continue releasing Green Belt land for housing in order to try and meet these unrealistic targets.

Planning permission was granted for 378,600 homes in England last year [2]. But housebuilders have increased their land banks by 20% over the past 10 years, while the overall rate of actual building of houses has slowed [3].

Rebecca Pullinger, Planning Campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:

‘National planning rules require local councils to show exceptional circumstances when they remove land from the Green Belt. These statistics illustrate that since 2012, such changes are no longer exceptional.

‘For too long housebuilders have been able to use land as a tool to manipulate and monopolise the market only to serve their own interests. The Government must stop heaping pressure on councils to deliver unrealistic targets that result in the Green Belt being chipped away. Instead, developers should be held more accountable to deliver the homes that they have promised.

‘Building within or on land released from the Green Belt is not the solution: it results in low density, unaffordable homes out of reach of those who desperately need to get a foot on the ladder.’

These new figures reinforce the conclusions of CPRE’s State of the Green Belt 2018 report, published in August this year. The report showed that the planned loss of Green Belt is continuing to increase at an alarming rate. Overall there are currently 460,000 homes being planned to be built on land that is set to be released from the Green Belt, of which 78% would be unaffordable by the Government’s definition [2].

CPRE is calling on the Government to follow through on its commitment to protect the Green Belt and develop clear guidance for local authorities on housing requirements to protect designated land.

There is currently enough brownfield land in England to accommodate more than 1 million homes, with almost three quarters of this land in areas counties with Green Belt land [3]. CPRE urges the government and local authorities ensure brownfield land is redeveloped before any more greenfield land is released from the Green Belt.


Notes to Editors

[1] Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Green Belt Statistics

Year 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015 2015/2016 2016/2017 2017/2018
Number of authorities changing their Green Belt boundary  3 3 4 3 11 8 8 10
Net change in size of the Green Belt boundary (hectares)  0 -50 -320 -530 -2,130 -1,020 -790 -5,070


[2] Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Planning Application Statistics

[3] Big UK housebuilders increase land holdings

[4] CPRE, State of the Green Belt 2018

[5] CPRE, State of Brownfield 2018

Please call our Press Officer, Phil Richards, on 020 7981 2880 for further information.