Architects have called for an end to the sacrosanct status of green belts.
The Royal Institute of British Architects says that development has in some cases ‘jumped’, generating long-distance commuter traffic while leaving green belts of little visual or amenity value.
Some 300,000 new homes a year would be needed for the foreseeable future, and where the green belt “no longer serves its purpose and isn’t appreciated by the local community, the land could be much better used to provide new housing, parks and space for communities to grow and prosper”, said a report by the body, which puts forward a set of recommendations for the next government.
It also called for the creation of city regions with substantial funding to rebalance England’s economy. This was needed to “take some of the pressure off London and the south east”, it said.
“We should go beyond city deals to autonomous city regions and ensure they have the financial mechanisms to access large amounts of long-term but sustainable funding”, the RIBA said in its report: Building a Better Britain: A Vision for the Next Government.
RIBA president Stephen Hodder said: “The next UK government should empower our cities, towns and villages to prosper and provide the homes, education, services and jobs that are vital for the nation.”
A national spatial strategy was needed, the report said, to try to take short-term political considerations out of decisions on nationally important infrastructure like high-speed rail and garden cities.
The RIBA also called for investment to improve “crumbling schools which fail those trying to learn and teach in them”, and for 10% of the transport budget to be diverted towards measures such as walking and cycling that would improve the nation’s health.