Campaigners are claiming that almost half a million new homes planned for green belt sites will not be affordable for young families trying to get on the housing ladder.
The Campaign for Rural England (CPRE) says that people are ‘being sold a lie’ by developers and will ‘go on struggling to afford a place to live.’
The row is over plans to build 460,000 new homes on land which the government plans to release from the green belt. CPRE argues that more brownfield sites should be used instead. Its research has shown that local authorities with green belt land also have enough brownfield land to build 720,000 new houses.
Spokesman Tom Fyans said: “We are being sold a lie by many developers. As they sell off and gobble up the green belt to build low density, unaffordable housing, young families go on struggling to afford a place to live.
“The government is failing in its commitment to protect the green belt – it is being eroded at an alarming rate.
“But it is essential, if the green belt is to fulfil its main purposes and provide 30 million of us with access to the benefits of the countryside, that the redevelopment of brownfield land is prioritised, and green belt protection strengthened.”
A brownfield site is one which has previously been used or built on whereas a green belt site has never been built on. Former factories which have closed down and demolished are typical brownfield sites.
The green belt was originally designed to protect the countryside from urban sprawl.
Proposed government changes to the National Planning Policy Framework has removed a proviso that houses built on green belt land on what are known as ‘rural exception sites’ must remain affordable forever.
The move relaxes the restrictions on how many homes must be sold or rented at a discount and analysts believe the value of the land will be either doubled or tripled.
CPRE analysis of the government plans to release green belt land shows that only 22% of the houses to be built will meet the government’s definition of affordable.
The charity claim local authorities with green belt land will now be given larger housing targets because of the government’s new method of calculating housing demand.
They expect the biggest push to build will be on the green belt land surrounding London.
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “We are clear that building the homes our country needs does not mean tearing up our countryside.
“Last year the number of new homes built was the highest in a decade and only 0.02 per cent of the Green Belt was developed for residential use.
“We are adding more certainty to the planning system and our rule book strengthens national protections for the Green Belt and says that councils may only alter boundaries in exceptional circumstances once they have looked at all other options”
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