Campaign to Protect Rural England has warned that the government is blind to building on brownfield sites, favouring unaffordable green belt homes.

Supporters of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) are speaking out against the government’s plans to continue to allow green belt land to be developed into new housing. Tom Fyans, CPRE’s director of campaigns and policy claims: “People are being sold a lie and will continue struggling to afford a place to live.”

In new data released by the CPRE, they estimate that last year only 72% of new homes qualified as affordable housing under the government’s official guidelines although this figure is forecast to rise to 78% by the end of 2018.

Green belt will see 460,000 new homes but affordability is at stake

Despite plans for 460,000 new homes to be built on the latest freed up green belt sites, the campaign group believes that this will fail to deliver adequate affordable homes for young people and families wanting to step onto the housing ladder.

In their review, the CPRE states that there is scope to construct in excess of one million homes on existing brownfield sites. The CPRE says that currently local authorities could utilise their brownfield sites to build around 720,000 new homes and leave the rural green belt intact.

Tom Fyans added: “The affordable housing crisis must be addressed with increased urgency, but building on green belt sites does not provide the solution, only entrenches the issue. The government is failing in its commitment to protect the green belt, which is being eroded at an alarming rate.”

Question of planning – 0.02% of green belt built on in 2017

In response, a government spokesperson from the department of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We are continuing to protect and strengthen green belt sites across the countryside. Compared to 1997, the green belt has increased by approximately 30,000 hectares. Only under ‘exceptional circumstances’ can local councils change the boundaries once all other options have been considered. Last year the number of new homes built was the highest in a decade with only 0.02% of the green belt developed for residential use.”

The CPRE’s analysis confirmed that over the past nine years, a total of 24,000 new homes have been built on green belt land and that in 2017 the number of finished homes in protected areas rose to 8,000 – almost a 50% annual increase.

The campaigning body flags the lack of affordable newly built homes in the countryside with 990 recorded in 2017, falling significantly short of the 7,600 annual target figure needed to meet address the growing needs of people struggling to find a place to live in England’s green and pleasant land.