Number of houses planned for greenbelt land has nearly doubled in a year
THE number of houses planned for greenbelt land has nearly doubled over the past year, according to new figures.
Some 150,000 homes and 1,000 hectares of mines and commercial premises are being proposed for the areas, research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England found.
Previous analysis suggested just 81,000 homes were planned in August 2012.
The group said the figures raised serious concerns about whether ministers were keeping their promises to safeguard the greenbelt.
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Spokesman Paul Miner said: "The extent to which the threat is growing – nearly doubling in a year – is deeply worrying.
"It should not be necessary to build on greenbelt land when there is enough brownfield land available for a million and a half new homes. Greenbelts prevent urban sprawl and are the green lungs of many of our largest or most historic towns and cities.
"Ministers now need to go further. Hard decisions are needed to help ensure both urban regeneration and protection of the green belt."
Housing minister Mark Prisk said: "This Government has explicitly stated it will maintain greenbelt protections. The greenbelt provides a valuable role in protecting against urban sprawl and providing a green lung around our towns and cities. We have increased greenbelt protections by abolishing every single one of the last Government's top-down regional strategies that sought to delete the greenbelt in 30 areas – local plans are now sovereign.
"We have also made it clear that the greenbelt is an inappropriate place for traveller sites and waste facilities, which will prevent speculative applications.
"In addition, the Government is also selling off surplus public sector brownfield land and has extended permitted development rights on developed brownfield sites to help bring thousands of empty and underused buildings back into use."
As well as in Gloucestershire, land is at risk in Bristol and South Gloucestershire where there are plans for 3,000 new homes and two new roads. Around Bridgwater in Somerset there are plans for 1,750 homes and a massive corridor of pylons across the Somerset Levels from Avonmouth to Bridgwater.