The latest comments on Green Belt by Government do not signal a change in policy or procedure, despite some comments to the contrary. Already some conservationist bodies are alleging that Green Belt policy is undermined. All the Government is doing is asking Local Planning Authorities (LPA’s) to review Green Belt extent where justified by circumstances. This has always been the case and was re-affirmed in the admirably succinct Green Belt section of the recent National Planning Policy Framework. DCLG are saying that they will priorities Local Plan examinations where LPA’s have revised Green Belt extent.
It is open to LPA’s to make deletions where overwhelming housing or commercial requirements demand this. This is happening, for example, in Bradford Metropolitan District and around Cambridge. LPA’s are free to add Green Belt whether or not this is meant to compensate for a deletion. The Chancellor is advocating these Green Belt swaps and the re-development of damaged or developed land lying within Green Belts. Government needs to realise that Green Belts are not primarily for conserving swathes of countryside, but for protecting relatively narrow bands of land on urban edges in shaping settlement patters.