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Land use statistics prompt green belt alarm

Words: Huw Morris
Green belt housing

Countryside campaigners have reacted with alarm to latest government figures revealing the level of new development on previously developed land and in the green belt.

According to land use statistics for 2013-14, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), 60 per cent of new addresses including conversions to residential use were created on previously developed land.

Three per cent of new addresses were created within the green belt. The figures also show 8 per cent of land changing to residential use was within the designated green belt.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) compared the statistics to figures released by construction data specialist Glenigan in June that show sites in the pipeline, most of which are yet to be built. This recorded an increase of more than 100 per cent in planning permissions in the past year.

The CPRE said the proportion of new housing development on brownfield land at 60 per cent is the lowest level since 1999. It is also worried that 57 per cent of all land area that changed to residential use was greenfield, the highest proportion since 1989.

"We are worried that the government appears to be increasingly content to squander precious countryside in order to get housebuilding going," said CPRE's planning campaign manager Paul Miner. "The amount of houses being built on previously undeveloped land is comparatively low density compared to what was being achieved in the 2000s, and increasing amounts of greenfield land are in the planning pipeline. We need to see a much higher proportion of brownfield land being redeveloped, and for the government to intervene more effectively when green belt land is proposed for development.

England has a land area of around 13 million hectares, of which 11 per cent is developed, according to the statistics. Around 13 per cent of the country is green belt.

Read the land use statistics on the Gov.uk website