Green Belt land may be built on

A panel of inspectors commissioned by the Government to assess land in the South East has announced that Green Belt land may have to be built on in order to build more homes for England?s rapidly increasing population.

Gordon Brown has said that he wants to create three million more homes by 2020, and, according to the inspectors? report, leaving the Green Belt untouched ?cannot be consistent with Government policy?.

The Green Belts have prevented building developments in the countryside with strict planning laws for over 50 years. However, the report has called for the revision of the status of some of this land, which could prove hugely profitable for developers.

Mr Brown said last month that ?We will continue robustly to protect the land designated as Green Belt,? and has been criticised by shadow planning minister Jacqui Lait, who said that this plan will ?give the green light to Green Belt destruction on a massive scale.?

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has also expressed ?major concerns? about developing the Green Belt land, saying in a statement that ?This poses a serious challenge to the character, beauty and tranquility of the region’s countryside.?

Inspectors, however, have dismissed such objections as nimbyism, and recommend that land around Oxford and Guildford should be the first to see new building. It also suggests serious reconsideration of the Green Belt status of land around Woking, Redhill, Reigate, Esher, Dorking and Oxted in Surrey; the Blackwater Valley on the borders of Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire; the areas of outer London; and Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

The Department for Communities and Local Government, who commissioned the report, said: ?There will be no change to the robust protections of the Green Belt? This is an independent report, not a statement of Government policy? Our clear priority for development will remain brownfield land – already over 70 per cent of new housing is being built on brownfield land, up from 57 per cent in 1997.?