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Green belt building 'likely', say councillors

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Two-fifths (58%) of councillors in England believe it is likely houses will be built on green belt land in the next five years, according to an Local Government Information Unit survey.

The figure was an increase from 51% when the question was last asked in 2013 and comes after communities secretary Sajid Javid backed councils building new homes on green belt land.

In November Mr Javid said: “Where local councils come forward with sensible, robust local plans – and are willing to take the tough decisions - I will back them all the way.”

Of the 1,200 councillors who took the survey, the result only took into account respondents who sat on councils with green belt land.

Councillors were also concerned about the impact of spending cuts on planning departments and whether these had sufficient staff to meet demands placed on them.

Half of respondents said their council’s planning team was not adequately resourced while 36% thought that it was. The remainder did not know.

Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell has hinted councils will be able to set planning fees locally but has said any money raised would need to be spent on resourcing planning departments.

Almost two-thirds (63%) agreed or strongly agreed “the current planning system is too top-down”, while 58% disagreed or strongly disagreed that it was “easy for residents in my ward to influence the planning process”.

Asked who held the greatest power in the planning process, 52% of councillors named the government, 26% developers and 16% councils. Just 7% rated residents the most powerful group.






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