Should Green Belts be developed?

Green Belts divide opinions. Some people say that they must be protected under all circumstances, while to others they are now outdated and unnecessary. Either way they can become a heated debate when looking at development in cities and built up areas. Many of our communities are desperate for new affordable homes so is the Green Belt land the best place to provide the needed infrastructure.

Looking at London alone its Green Belt covers around 500,000 hectares, so you can see why this protected land is much desired.

Green Belt Benefits

Green Belt land provides many benefits to urban landscapes and people living in them. People that live within busy city areas utilise the green spaces for leisure activities, the Green Belt gives biodiversity and easy to manage areas, but this cannot always be quantified. Developers require figures to weigh up the development potential, which housing markets can provide.

If, however, you look at the green benefits of having more trees and plants within an area, this can be measured by the ability to take carbon out of the atmosphere. Therefore looking more towards renewable energies, and developing health and leisure facilities could help to provide a quantifiable value for the Green Belts.

Developers have been calling for ‘poor quality’ inaccessible land which falls within the Green Belt to be released for development. They hope this will provide more affordable properties, especially within the cities. However people are concerned that slowly ‘chipping away’ at the Green Belt will encourage Urban Sprawl, which may then become out of control. London is an example of a successful prevention of Urban Sprawl where they have stopped such development breeching the Green Belt.

Brownfield Sites

The alternative to developing Green Belts is to look at the Brownfield sites that sit within our towns and cities. Other options include increasing the density of residential developments and improving the transport services that link cities, towns and surrounding villages. Would you give up your garden for development if you lived within an area in need of housing? Even for a healthy monetary reward many people would probably choose not to have their gardens developed. These sites are usually difficult to access, build on and are usually not financially that viable for developers.

The alternative to densification comes down to longer commutes for people that cannot live near their places of work. How far would you be willing to travel if you could not live within the vicinity of your workplace? Would you be supporting the development of Green Belts, or just want better transport links? With an ever growing population and employers trying to attract workers into larger towns and cities the protection of Green Belts is going to continue to to be a heated debate.

Read our blog on ‘Are there enough homes to go around?