A jury of Londoners was convened by Community Research, with the aim of representing the demographics of the capital. Jurors were drawn from 12 different boroughs, and screened to ensure they were not working in planning or for developers, while those who were active in politics or who had campaigned on environmental issues were also taken out.
They were then presented with evidence on both sides of the argument over a day and a half from witnesses including London MPs, town planners, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
The jury voted by a margin of 11-1 in favour of locally-led reviews of the green belt with the aim of producing more affordable properties.
Target brownfield sites
The jury concluded that while genuinely green areas are highly valued and should not be built on, low-quality and brownfield land ‒ which is already used for things like rubbish dumps and construction yards ‒ should be reviewed to see if they could work for new homes.
It also supported the idea of green belt swaps, where green spaces are created while low-quality and brownfield sites are taken out for potential development, and agreed that any green belt review should be locally led to ensure that communities have a say.
Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, said that while the capital’s green spaces should be protected, this did not mean “that low-quality land is safeguarded at all costs”.
She continued: “It’s time for the government to review the outdated Green Belt rules and for politicians across London to start working with their local communities to explore how small sections could be released to support the delivery of more affordable homes.”