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Build houses in green-belt 'corridor' to Cambridge, says LSE

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An experimental development corridor should be created between London and Cambridge to prove the benefits of releasing green-belt land for development, according to a London School of Economics (LSE) report

The report, released today (1 August), calls for a strategic review of the green belt in order to reduce housing pressure in London.

It says that new ‘green wedges’ could be created on currently protected land, bounded with green spaces to deliver environmental and recreational benefits.

Alan Mace, assistant professor of urban planning studies at LSE and one of the report’s authors, said: ‘We have reached a point where we cannot keep on disregarding the green belt as an option for well thought-out development. Brownfield sites simply cannot supply enough land to meet projected housing needs in London and the wider South East.’

He added that much of the green belt was neither aesthetically pleasing nor environmentally valuable.

From denham ct dr,colne valley park

From denham ct dr,colne valley park

But Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, argued that the green belt should not be compromised.

‘If we are to build the homes we need, we have to reinforce current protections and put brownfield first, not weaken green-belt policy on an agenda of economic growth in the South East,’ he said.

’The green belt is well established, but it is not outdated. In preventing urban sprawl it continues to provide impetus for urban regeneration, and makes environmental and economic sense in protecting the breathing space around our towns and cities.’

Architect Robert Adam, however, backed the idea of a review of green belt land.

‘We need to go back to first principles to look at how much green belt land we actually need now,’ he said.

We need to go back to look at how much green belt land we actually need now

‘We need to look at the costs that are being created by forcing people to live beyond the green belt and undertaking extra travel.’

David Rudlin, director at Wolfson prize-winner URBED, said that the report was a valuable contribution because politicians were often frightened to address the issue.

He said: ‘The green belt has become a tourniquet that is strangling our cities and leading to perverse patterns of growth.

‘The LSE report argues, as do we, that the green belt is vital but that it must flex if it is to survive.

‘To do this we need to take what we have called a “confident bite” out of the green belt, rather than nibbling around its edges.’

Corridor map 1

Corridor map 1

Comment:

Marcus Adams, managing director of JTP

’We welcome the report, especially its recommendations for a comprehensive review. Only a small proportion of the land is in the London boundary but the implications stretch beyond London. The fact that it stretches beyond political boundaries is positive. I think this could be a real opportunity to look beyond different planning authorities’ interests.

’It is 80 years since it was first discussed and 60 years since the Green Belt policy was implemented – and London has changed a lot, not just the population but its boundaries. Given we need a lot more new housing, the context has fundamentally changed.

’The other thing that people don’t know, or conveniently forget, is that the Green Belt policy was set within a policy for strategic growth. The post war new towns provided that growth and the green belt was there to go hand in hand with it. The policy was not about constraining growth per se but focusing it in a strategic way.

’It is an ideal time to have the conversation and work out a way to create sustainable neighbourhoods.’

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