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23/03/2021

Charles Goode: My view on... the green belt

Academic Charles Goode considers the effect that granting planning powers to combined authorities would have on green belt management 

How can the green belt can be managed in a more strategic way?

I believe that reviewing the green belt over a broader spatial area and for a longer time frame could give more certainty to both housebuilders and campaigners. Such a review could take place as part of a strategic regional or sub-regional plan that explores broader trends surrounding transport infrastructure, economic growth, and housing development, evaluates the various spatial blueprints for growth, and allocates broad areas of growth and restraint.

In my research, I develop the ideal of a green belt ‘council’, formed of planning experts and local politicians, to review the whole green belt for a longer-term time frame, perhaps 15-20 years.

"The revival of structure planning through local government reorganisation could allow a more strategic approach than the current locally led system"

However, there are challenges associated with territoriality and governance. Stemming back to the threat of encroachment by industrial cities through suburban sprawl, the counties often take a defensive approach to ‘their’ green belt. There is also arguably a tension between the need to plan strategically, both in a temporal and geographical sense, and democratic accountability, especially given the short time frame of electoral cycles and lack of political representation at a regional level.

The revival of structure planning through local government reorganisation could allow a more strategic approach than the current locally led system. Likewise, if planning powers were granted to all combined authorities, this would also be a positive step towards rebuilding strategic planning.

Charles Goode is a Licentiate member of the RTPI and an ESRC-funded Doctoral Researcher in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Birmingham.

This is an edited version of an article which first appeared on the RTPI blog.

Image credit | Shutterstock

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