Planning minister's think-tank calls for millions of homes on Green Belt

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The Independent Online

The Government should build on Green Belt land to address Britain's housing shortage, according to a think-tank founded by the new Planning minister, Nick Boles.

In a report that roundly condemns the planning system, Policy Exchange claims that releasing 2 per cent of land in England would allow the construction of eight million family homes. The Government recently indicated it would look at relaxing planning regulations to boost house-building. Mr Boles, who founded Policy Exchange in 2002, was appointed Planning minister in last week's reshuffle.

Arguing that the UK does not have sufficient capacity on its brown-field sites to build more than a million new homes, the report recommends that central and local governments should make it easier for local people to give their approval for selected developments on green-field sites.

"It is artificial scarcity created by planning we are concerned with. Releasing just 2 per cent of our land would allow eight million family homes," the report states. It argues that the UK is caught in a "failing cycle" of excessive local council control and poorly designed central government interference. It recommends decision-making be placed in the hands of local people.