Greed leads to green belt building
If the Coalition Government really does want to pick a fight with the whole of "Middle England" their plans for concreting over the green parts of this "green and pleasant land", then they might like to consider the following:
There are 279,000 empty homes in England that have been empty for over six months according to the national Empty Homes Agency, it costs an average of a mere £10,000 for small local builders to renovate an empty home and bring it back to market.
The planning officers' society says that developers have hundreds of thousands of plots (some say as many as 500,000) where planning permission has already been granted, but developers are just not building.
There is sufficient previously developed or "brown field" land for 1,500,000 new dwellings according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
Altogether, there must be 3,000,000 or so new dwellings that could be developed without touching a single green field, whether green belt or not, and roughly 1/3rd of these truly sustainable new dwellings would have to be social housing units according to existing guidelines.
Most could be delivered within a year or so without legislation and make a huge dent in the 1.7 million families currently on housing waiting lists.
Yet still successive governments only listen to the highly paid professional lobbyists from the mass housing builders, who continue to fixate on digging up the green belt when it actually makes more sense to declare a total embargo on green field planning applications for development, at least until the current backlog of stalled projects has been cleared?
It is not as if the green belt isn't already being widely used for housing developments.
The DCLG tells me that, nationally, an acreage equivalent to two medium sized cities has already been built on green belt land over the last 20 years alone.
Here in the West Country, DCLG say we lose c50 hectares of green belt land to development around Bristol each and every year.
So why not talk now to the CPRE, the National Trust, the Women's Institute and green belt campaigners, to find a creative way forward?
No one is against growth but it is sheer opportunism and naked greed driving those staking a claim to build on the green belt when it is clearly not appropriate and not in the nation's interest.
Now that Don Foster is a minister within DCLG, he needs to sort this out.
RON MORTON St Helen's Drive Wick