Majority of planned housing on green belt ‘unaffordable’

Some 70% of the 425,000 planned houses on England’s green belt will be unaffordable to those that need them, and will not tackle the housing crisis.

Green belt housing unaffordable / Credit Alamy

That is according to a new report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which reveals that the proposed housing increase is the biggest for two decades, and 54% more than in March 2016.

However, the majority of this will not include low-cost homes or housing for rent, despite previous CPRE research showing that just one in ten rural homes fall into this ‘affordable’ category.

“We must not be the generation that sells off our precious green belt in the mistaken belief it will help improve the affordability of housing,” CPRE director of campaigns and policy, Tom Fyans, said.

It is expected that councils will be rewarded with £2.4bn for the new homes, despite the PM saying that the green belt must be protected, and a CPRE poll showing that 64% of the public support this.

In addition, the environmental group’s research shows that at least 1.1 million homes could be built on suitable brownfield sites across England instead.

The environmental group is now calling on the government to make it clearer that major losses to the green belt should be avoided, and that boundaries are reviewed no more than every 15 years.

When it is necessary to build on green belts, the CPRE says small-scale, locally led ‘rural exception site’ schemes should be used to minimise harm, while funding should be removed from developments that do not meet local needs.

It also believes the government should reaffirm that that high levels of housing demands do not in themselves justify changing boundaries, and abandon current methods of calculating housing needs which unrealistically inflate house building.

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