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Building on green belt will not increase affordable home delivery

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Freeing up land on the green belt will do little to increase affordable home delivery, according to a new analysis of England’s local plans.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has reported that 72% of homes built last year on greenfield land within the green belt were not defined as affordable, with that percentage expected to rise this financial year.

In its annual State of the Green Belt report, CPRE found 460,000 homes are due to be built on land that will soon be released from the green belt, of which only 22% is expected to be defined as affordable.

CPRE’s findings reflect LGC analysis, which found in June that the proportion of new homes built in the green belt in 2016-17 had doubled compared to the previous year.

Tom Fyans, campaigns and policy director at CPRE, said: ‘We are being sold a lie by many developers. As they sell off and gobble up the green belt to build low density, unaffordable housing, young families go on struggling to afford a place to live.

“The affordable housing crisis must be addressed with increasing urgency, while acknowledging that far from providing the solution, building on the green belt only serves to entrench the issue.”

The annual report also warns against the “strategic shrinking” of the green belt, by moving green belt boundaries when reviewing local plans.

This practice is now expected to become more difficult, however, according to the revised and final copy of the National Planning Policy Framework, released last month on the final day of Parliament.

Under the new NPPF guidelines, councils must detail their “high expectations and considerable evidence” before changing green belt boundaries. This evidence must include a detailed consideration of existing brownfield sites, the effect of increasing housing densities in towns and exploring other options with neighbouring councils.

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