Skip to content

Mayor agrees the Green Belt is London’s ‘Climate Safety Belt’

12th February 2020

The London Mayor has written to CPRE London, confirming the importance of the Green Belt role in responding to the Climate Emergency. 



The Green Belt’s most important job is to contain urban sprawl and a recent letter to CPRE London from the London Mayor confirms why this is so vital. But the Mayor goes onto explain that “the strong protection of the Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land is also important due to the multiple environmental functions this land performs particularly within the context of a climate emergency. They provide many benefits including ensuring transport emissions to not increase from sprawl, supporting London’s resilience to a changing climate (such as preventing flooding) as well as supporting food growing, providing important habitats for wildlife and allowing space for recreation and relaxation for Londoners.”

The mayor says: “I believe that the continued, strong emphasis I have placed on protecting London’s Green Belt and MOL is justified in order to help prevent urban sprawl, driving the re-use and intensification of previously developed land to ensure the city makes efficient use of its infrastructure, and inner urban areas benefit from regeneration and investment. This is a key part of the approach the draft London Plan takes to prioritising development on brownfield land.


Green Belts don’t stop development – they make sure it happens in the right place. There are huge areas of brownfield land in London in need of regeneration, and even more space which is used very inefficiently. CPRE London does not advocate high rise development but does argue that high density development or ‘compact cities’ are good for people and the environment. In London, it is common to see relatively high density development but there is still huge pressure to build out into Green Belt and so CPRE London recently published a short report on density to:

  • Reassure suburban Londoners that building at high density does not need to mean tower blocks and high rise, that it can be attractive both to look at and to live in
  • Remind London Boroughs and residents alike that high density living has both social and environmental benefits and is attractive to many
  • Remind London Boroughs that, if you build in Green Belt, you are consigned to building low-density, high-carbon, car-dependent housing which is unlikely to be affordable and will undermine the Mayor’s Transport Strategy which seeks to dramatically reduce car trips in the city
  • Remind everyone that many people do not have access to a car and that planning development without cars is not only possible but potentially attractive to many, particularly older people, young people and people on lower incomes.

You can read CPRE London’s publication on density here.

Download the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s letter to CPRE London of 14 January below.

Mayor’s Letter