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Replace London’s green belt with ‘green web’ to deliver housing

Words: Laura Edgar
Green web

Replacing West London’s green belt with a ‘green web’ could accommodate 100,000 new homes, according to a new report.

The report, Re/Shaping London: Unlocking Sustainable Growth In West London And Beyond, also criticises the government for not delivering the amount of new homes and workplaces required.

The study, commissioned by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for London’s Planning and Built Environment and published by the London Society, was co-written by global property firm Colliers International.

Jonathan Manns, head of regeneration and director of planning at Colliers International said the review demonstrates how a range of approaches could secure a greater amount of construction, of a higher quality, more quickly and with greater public support.

Re/Shaping London explores the scope for change in West London, an area which co-author Dr Nicholas Falk, founder of Urbed and chair of the Urbed Trust (Urbanism, Environment and Design), said is a largely unknown area to most people.

He explained that it includes some of the capital’s “largest infrastructure projects with huge untapped potential for housing and other development”.

The report suggests that a West London green web could alone accommodate 100,000 new homes.

The key distinction between green web areas and green belt land would be “rather than setting a clear delineation between urban and rural area, the web would seek to fuse the two together”, says the report.

In doing this, it would seek to establish a “more sustainable and high-quality approach to land use and that by integrating them together “there is scope for a better built and natural environment”.

In addition to the 100,00 green web homes at Colne Valley, the report proposes the densification of existing suburbs with transport capacity in West London. Intensification around Old Oak, a new garden city at Northolt and along the ‘Blue Corridor’ of the Grand Union Canal (facilitated by a new orbital railway linking Uxbridge and Staines via West Drayton and Heathrow) could double the number of potential homes to 200,000.

The report also suggests this could accommodate 200,000 new jobs.

The idea of a ‘green web’ involves opening up pockets of land for development where transport connectivity is good and using this to fund the enhancement of the natural environment.

Manns explains: “The green web is an entirely new concept, intended to respond to the present challenges of climate change, environmental degradation and urban growth.

He said it is intended to respond to the challenges of climate change, environmental degradation and urban growth.

“The idea is about bringing built and natural environments together, but in a way which enhances the quality of each. We suggest that, within a green web, 50 per cent of the land may be developed and 50 per cent preserved in perpetuity under the control of a Green Web Trust.”

He said the trust would manage the green space and be funded through the change in land value arising from the new designation.

More information can be found here.