According to a report in The Sunday Telegraph, ministers will put their weight behind plans to build on green belt land by encouraging the use of ‘green belt swaps’.
These swaps would see councils remove protection on one area of green belt, but create commensurate parcels of protected land in other locations.
Although rules currently exist to enable this, many projects are rejected by planning bodies because the new land fails to meet the definition of green belt. The newspaper said a white paper on housing, to be published next month, would encourage the use of ‘green belt swaps’.
Steve Turner, head of communications for the Home Builders Federation, said: “Local authorities are best placed to decide on the most appropriate locations for house building in their areas. In recent years there have been examples of local authorities deciding to utilise what was previously green belt land in their areas for development in order to meet their housing requirements. Overall however, the volume of land designated as green belt is greater than a decade ago.”
Turner said he would like to see green belt land redefined in a way that would meet today’s house building requirements while also creating a balance with environmental and sustainability considerations.
He added: “Green belt boundaries are historic and arbitrary lines on a map without any delineation of the type of land included. A strategic review of green belt policy could better ensure that this broad brush policy evolves to cover the type of land many believe it was set up to protect, such as areas of natural beauty and gaps between settlements while allowing the country to address our housing crisis in a sustainable way.”
Sajid Javid, secretary of state for communities and local government, has publicly stated that politicians “should not stand in the way” of councils who propose green belt development, providing “all the options” have been considered.