Research by the National Trust finds half of councils likely to allow green belt development, while brownfield sites left untouched

Green belt

Source: Alamy

Councils in England are increasingly likely to authorise development on green belt land while brownfield sites are spared from development, according to research commissioned by the National Trust.

A survey by the Local Government Information Unit found that 51% of 59 councils with green belts that responded to the survey were either likely or very likely to authorise development on green belt land.

The suvey also found that over half of the 147 councils that responded said they had brownfield sites, but they were not considered viable for development.

The results come just 18 months after the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework, which was labelled a “developers’ charter” by campaigners because it put a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” at the centre of the planning system.

The National Trust research followed a similar survey by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), published in August, which found the number of houses planned for the green belt land had increased 84% over the previous 12 months.

Simon Jenkins, chair of the National Trust, said green belt had been the “star feature of British town and country planning for half a century” and had “prevented urban sprawl”.

He added: “The government’s definition of ‘sustainable’ is in practice being interpreted as ‘profitable’, and has effectively killed the former planning presumption in favour of brownfield land.

“What is now happening is a policy of let rip, leading to steady erosion. For the first time in British planning history, planning control is now the slave not the master of profit.”

Planning minister Nick Boles said: “The coalition government has safeguarded national green belt protection, abolished Labour’s regional strategies which threatened to rip up the green belt and introduced a new protection for valuable green spaces.

“The biggest threat to the green belt is Ed Miliband’s plans to allow urban councils to dump development on their rural neighbours.”