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Protecting London’s Green Belt

London’s Green Belt is currently facing unprecedented threats from boroughs intent on removing green belt designations to accommodate development rather than using the plentiful brownfield sites available.

Building out into Green Belt is the worst possible option for London. It is a lose-lose scenario. We lose our countryside and we create a high-carbon, car-dependent, unhealthy city.

We must do more to provide the truly affordable homes we need. But it’s vital that the right kinds of houses are built in the right places. 2021 CPRE research demonstrated both that releasing land from the Green Belt does not lead to affordable homes and that there is an often unrecognised supply of previously developed land, generally in much more sustainable locations, that could be used for desperately needed new housing.

  • We work to demonstrate why London’s Green Belt is so important, emphasising its purpose, to halt the devastating impacts of urban sprawl and promote urban regeneration. We have shown that it is Our Climate Safety Belt since it ensures we build a low-carbon city. We show that Green Belts create Compact Cities which are more efficient, lower-carbon, healthier and greener than sprawling cities.
  • We remind those who frequently imply that Green Belts can be, in places, unattractive (citing this as a reason we should give it up for development), that the NPPF states “local planning authorities should plan positively to enhance their beneficial use, such as looking for opportunities to provide access; to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or to improve damaged and derelict land.”
  • We defend London’s Green Belt wherever it is under threat, working with local campaigners to make a strong case to protect it. For example, we’re currently working with residents in Hounslow and Enfield where the councils are looking at removing Green Belt designation from large areas of London’s countryside to make way for development, despite plentiful availability of brownfield land.
  • Our Space to Build work demonstrates why we don’t need to build on Green Belt and shows there is plenty of brownfield land in London to accommodate development: part of our work involves providing concrete evidence to show there is plenty of ‘space to build’. In Enfield, for example, we worked with local residents to look at every single road in the borough and submitted hundreds of potential locations, large and small, to the Local Plan consultation – showing clearly that there is no need to build on Enfield’s Green Belt.
  • Beyond the GLA borders (recognising that sprawl in London’s Green Belt will have a huge negative impact on London) we work with the London Green Belt Council and other CPRE branches to save green fields from development including publishing the major report Safe Under Us? in 2016, launched in parliament with Richard Rogers and many MPs present, and still relevant today. We have also shown why building car-dependent development outside the GLA borders, in London’s Green Belt, will mean we end up Driving in Circles with 5 million extra car journeys per week.

Our commitment to London’s parks and green spaces
✓ We support local groups, helping them save vital parks; and supporting them to create new parks from derelict and neglected green spaces
✓ We identify the reasons spaces are coming under threat and work to tackle the causes
✓ We champion parks, green spaces, Metropolitan Open Land and Green Belt, showing why they are so important
✓ We publicise threats and advocate for political commitment and new policy and legislation