Theresa May accused of going back on promise to protect Britain's green belt

Campaign to Protect Rural England makes warning in new report

Narjas Zatat@Narjas_Zatat
Monday 03 July 2017 17:58
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May has already lost her chiefs of staff and other key members of her team following the disastrous election result
May has already lost her chiefs of staff and other key members of her team following the disastrous election result

Theresa May has been accused of reneging on her promise to protect the green belt after a new report concluded that almost half a million fresh homes are to be built, with most deemed “unaffordable”.

Campaign to Protect Rural England’s (CPRE) annual Green Belt Under Siege report found that just 28 per cent, or 118,900, of houses planned for green belt land would be affordable.

“Many local plans state clearly that the priority is not to provide affordable housing, but large houses to service demand at the top end of the market," it said.

“At a time when more than 1.8 million households in England are waiting for a ‘social’ home, a clear majority of the housing proposed on land to be released from the Green Belt will be unaffordable for most people living in the local area.”

The report claims the Government will subsidise proposed housing development on green belt land at a cost of around £2.44 billion, through the New Homes Bonus Scheme. The scheme was originally created as a way to offer incentives for local authorities to deliver affordable houses, but given the statistics, CPRE said “the Government is spending at least £2bn undermining its own commitment to protect the Green Belt".

A Department for Communities and Local Government told The Independent: “We do not recognise these figures. This government is committed to protect the green belt.

"Only in exceptional circumstances may councils alter green belt boundaries, after consulting local people and submitting the revised Local Plan for examination. We’ve been clear that councils must prioritise development on brownfield land, and announced plans to radically boost brownfield development.

"Our recent Housing White Paper also set out measures to make housing more affordable, boosted by a £7.1bn investment in affordable housing by March 2021.”

The CPRE claims that the Conservative Government has nearly doubled the number of homes planned for green belt land compared to regional plans outlined by the Labour government in 2009.

In 2015 the government revealed its intention to weaken rules that prevent homes being built on green land, allowing councils to appropriate “small-scale sites in the Green Belt specifically for starter homes". An analysis by The Independent then found that these “starter homes”, though 20 per cent cheaper than normal homes, will still only be affordable for those with an annual salary of £50,226 – the top 10 per cent.

After assuming office, Ms May had reiterated her intentions to protect the green belt, and told parliament: "The Government is very clear that the green belt must be protected.

According to government statistics, approximately 13 per cent of the land area of England is designated Green Belt area, a decrease of less than 0.1 per cent between 31 March 2015 and 31 March 2016.

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