Housing White Paper and the Green Belt

Today the government unveiled its Housing White Paper, which sets how it plans to reform the housing market and increase the supply of new homes. 

The White Paper reiterates the government’s commitment to protect Green Belt boundaries, but recognises that parts of the Green Belt are not the green fields in rolling countryside that we often picture, and that public access to them can be limited. In the case of Kempton Park for example, the site is not publicly accessible and is a former gravel quarry. 

Among the White Paper’s recommendations is that when other options to meet identified development requirements are exhausted, authorities should review Green Belt boundaries. This is a shift from previous policy where there was no such requirement to do this. 

In constrained authorities like Spelthorne, where opportunities for development are limited, the high housing requirement may be an exceptional circumstance that justifies removal of land from the Green Belt to meet local housing need.

If that proves to be the case local authorities should not duck difficult decisions, and the government recommends “reform to national policy to make clear that when carrying out a Green Belt review, local planning authorities should look first at using any Green Belt land which has been previously developed and/or which surrounds transport hubs.”

Kempton Park, which has been submitted to Spelthorne Council’s Call for Sites exercise provides the unique opportunity to build up to 3,000 much needed new homes, partly on brownfield, previously developed land, which will be located adjacent to a future Crossrail 2 station. 

It could also sustain approximately four years of Spelthorne’s housing need, enhance the environmental quality of the site, and deliver full public access to significant areas of retained Green Belt land and other open space on the site for the first time, whilst generating significant contributions to local infrastructure, from improvements to the local road networks, a new school, health facilities and a significant boost to employment.