Letter: Positive development of green belt sites

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The Independent Online
Sir: The likely relaxation of development controls in green belts ('Building on green belts to be encouraged', 18 July) should enhance rather than harm the environment of many green belts. The vital part played by the green belt in preserving our environment and restricting urban sprawl does not require a blanket ban on all development.

The draft planning guidance will set 'positive objectives' for the use of green belt land and allow the redevelopment or reuse of existing sites, rather than just imposing negative restraints. This is essential if the many green belt sites occupied by redundant hospital, defence and other institutional buildings (often important listed buildings) are to be given a new lease of life.

Sensitive development of these sites will not only remove existing environmental eyesores but also create much needed new employment opportunities. The Government should grasp the opportunity to provide a more positive approach to planning policy within green belts to preserve and enhance their crucial role.

ROY SWANSTON

President

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

London, SW1

21 July

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