Building on England's green belt won't produce more affordable homes, according to a lobbying group. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has produced a report that shows only a fifth of the 460,000 homes to be built on land released from the green belt will meet the government's own definition of affordable.
The group's annual State of the Green Belt report claims that building on the green belt is not solving the affordable housing crisis, noting that 72 percent of homes built on greenfield land last year were officially unaffordable.
Campaign group angry at 'strategic shrinking'
Green belt boundaries are allowed to be moved when councils review their local plans to make it easier to release land for housing development. However, the CPRE report says this is only supposed to happen under "exceptional circumstances", and it describes the boundary moving as "strategic shrinking" of the green belt to get around its protect status.
There are 14 green belt areas across England, designated to stop urban sprawl eating up the countryside. Those areas also include brownfield land that has previously been used for commerce or industry and can now be built on for housing.
Brownfield land has room for 1m homes
According to the CPRE, there is enough brownfield land in England to accommodate more than one million homes, and its report calls on the government and local authorities to ensure this land is developed before any more greenfield land is released. In green belt areas, brownfield sites could host more than 720,000 homes, most of those properties in areas where there is an urgent need for housing and where the infrastructure is already in place.
Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at the CPRE, said: "We are being sold a lie by many developers. As they sell off and gobble up the green belt to build low-density, unaffordable housing, young families go on struggling to afford a place to live.
"The affordable housing crisis must be addressed with increasing urgency, while acknowledging that, far from providing the solution, building on the green belt only serves to entrench the issue.
"The government is failing in its commitment to protect the green belt - it is being eroded at an alarming rate. But it is essential, if the green belt is to fulfil its main purposes and provide 30 million of us with access to the benefits of the countryside, that the redevelopment of brownfield land is prioritised and green belt protection strengthened."
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