“Fresh thinking” needed on Green Belt policy
A briefing document published by the Landscape Institute in recent days has called for “fresh thinking” on the UK’s Green Belt policy, amid concerns that existing laws are too vague and fail to address a number of important environmental issues.
Towards the end of April, the Institute laid out its concerns in a briefing geared towards addressing the UK’s housing crisis and sparking fresh debate around the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) draft.
In its briefing, the group said that Green Belt policy ought to be reformed to take into consideration a number of important environmental concerns, such as:
- Flood risk
- Air pollution
- Health and wellbeing
- Biodiversity enhancement
- Societal need for climate change mitigation.
The Landscape Institute argued that an increasing number of emerging plans are proposing that land is released from the Green Belt, but that there is currently no ‘best practice’ or ‘nationally accepted procedure’ clearly defining the ways in which Green Belt boundaries should be reviewed under these circumstances.
It proposed: “In our view, any local Green Belt review should take account of the range of planning mechanisms that are available to protect and enhance the potential functionality of Green Belt land”.
It added that Green Belt policy needed to be clearer-cut and that the public deserved a system they could trust.
Most notably, its briefing suggested that there should be a ‘Natural Capital Accounting’ approach to the Green Belt and that a ‘nationally accepted methodology’ was urgently required.
Merrick Denton-Thompson, President of the Landscape Institute, said: “We all want beautiful, functional green land around our towns and cities. A review that firmly re-establishes Green Belt principles might allow new development in some areas. But it equally could mean new Green Belts in places that don’t have them”.
Kate Bailey, Policy Committee Chair, added: “The Landscape Institute urges people to move away from the idea that Green Belt is good simply because it is there.
“Green belt policy has been very effective in many locations over many years, but if redefined as natural capital, green infrastructure or strategic open space, its transformation and enrichment could deliver far greater benefit”. she said.