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Green Belt: Compact City

Join CPRE London’s fight to save the Green Belt and stop urban sprawl.

Building into Green Belt is the worst possible option for London. We lose our countryside and create a high-carbon, car-dependent, unhealthy city. London’s Green Belt is currently facing more threats than ever from boroughs which look to remove green belt protection instead of developing plentiful brownfield sites.

Urban sprawl is low-density development, outside city boundaries, unable to support local buses, jobs, shops and services. It relies on cars and increases energy use, pollution and traffic congestion. It raises transport costs and social isolation, and leads to loss of countryside, destruction of agricultural land and wildlife habitat.

Low carbon cities

In line with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommendations, we call for ‘compact, efficient cities’ with strong Green Belt protection. Public transport, walking and cycling have priority, and people can live close to jobs and amenities. Parks and green spaces are protected for health, recreation, sport and nature. It’s possible to create compact cities by using land efficiently, recycling sites in need of regeneration, using space better, and moving away from car-use. Reliance on cars is space-inefficient, and generates air pollution and noise.

What are we doing to make sure London develops as a compact city with strong Green Belt protection?

  1. We campaign to save London’s Green Belt, working with local campaigners. Currently Hounslow and Enfield councils are looking at removing Green Belt designation from large areas of London’s countryside to make way for development, despite plentiful brownfield land. We also demonstrate why London’s Green Belt is Our Climate Safety Belt. Beyond London’s borders we work with the London Green Belt Council and other CPRE branches to save green fields from development.
  2. We support Compact Cities, showing why “To save the countryside we have to save our cities”. We point to the social and environmental down-sides of sprawling low-density development. We support gentle density increases, in keeping with the character of the wider area, and do not believe high rise living is the answer.  For more on our approach to making better use of wasted space and enabling people to move away from car dependency please see Double the Density, Halve the Land Needed and 10 reasons higher density living is good for communities.
  3. Our Space to Build work shows we don’t need to build on Green Belt. There is plenty of brownfield land in London for development. We point out where there is space to build.
  4. Through our Healthy Streets programme we promote sustainable transport which is the key to building a compact city. We have coordinated London’s Healthy Streets Scorecard coalition since 2019. We have also shown why building car-dependent development in London’s Green Belt will mean we end up Driving in Circles with 5 million extra car journeys per week.