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New poll shows support for green belt

Words: Laura Edgar

As a poll by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) finds that nearly two-thirds of people support green belt aims, the group calls on the government to redouble efforts to protect green belt land.

Today - the 60th anniversary of the founding of the green belt - the CPRE has published the result of a poll it commissioned. It reveals that 64 per cent of people asked agree that the green belt should be protected, with just 17 per cent disagreeing.

Of those surveyed who live in town and cities, 62 per cent support the protection of the green belt. CPRE say this result “casts doubt on the claims of critics that green belts do not benefit people who live in urban areas”.

The group is launching a new campaign in response to threats to the green belt, stating that local authorities are repeatedly having to fight proposals to build on green belt land.

CPRE explains that ‘Our green belt’ calls on the government to:

  • Be more specific on the limited circumstances in which green belt boundaries can be changed through local plans;

  • Call in or direct local authorities to refuse damaging developments in the green belt that are not identified in existing local or neighbourhood plans; and

  • Target public funding, through organisation such as Natural England and Local Enterprise Partnerships, to increase the quality of and access to green belt.

The campaign, says the CPRE, aims to show why people value the green belt by inviting the public to submit photos and stories to a digital wall showing how they use such areas.

Shaun Spiers, CPRE chief executive, says the group knows the public loves the green belt and it is supported by politicians, yet it is still “under greater threat than it has been in its 60-year history”.

He said more than 200,000 houses are already planned for green belt land and a “growing number of think tanks, developers and business groups are gunning for the green belt, arguing with very little evidence that we need to build on it in order to tackle the country’s housing crisis”.

The campaign, said Spiers, is intended to rally all who care about the issue.

“We want both national and local politicians to make clear that they recognise the importance of the green belt, and to commit to ensuring that planning authorities secure its protection,” he concluded.