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RTPI: fresh approach needed for housing location

10 November 2016

England’s greenfield sites, including green belts, need to be considered alongside brownfield land as locations for new housing, the RTPI said today.

Greenfield/green belts can help solve the housing crisis

In its policy statement Where should we build new homes, published today after canvassing members across England and Wales, the RTPI said the Government’s impending Housing White Paper needs a “fresh approach” to directing where new housing should be located.

The statement says “green belt boundaries may well need to change, but only after a careful review over wider areas than single local authorities, where safeguards are put in place to ensure development is sustainable, affordable and delivered in a timely manner, and without prejudice to the renewal of brownfield land”.

"Brownfield first" needs more funding to make it work

RTPI’s statement re-affirms the continued importance of using brownfield land as a priority, but it warns that this policy will fail if there is insufficient funding and a lack of remedial programmes to make sites ready for development and accessible to transport.

Phil Williams, RTPI President, said:
“’Brownfield first’ can only work with accompanying public investment. Without Government help in de-risking and making ready brownfield sites with upfront infrastructure, many sites will never come on stream.

“This is not a crude green light that says ‘build on the Green Belt’, but we need a new approach to enable greenfield sites and green belt sites to be regarded more positively by local authorities, politicians and communities. As a society we need to look at the countryside and green belts beyond their recreational and aesthetic appeal, and assess how they can help to shape urban change in the most equitable way.

“The emotional debate around green belts is often about people’s lack of confidence in the piecemeal decisions about housing location which have had a negative impact on local amenity.

“If the planning system and planners are allowed to work properly to ensure all developments, be they on brownfield, greenfield, green belt and intensified urban centres, are in the right place in the right scale with the right infrastructure, we stand a better chance in solving the housing crisis.”

Where should we build new homes has been formulated after extensive consultation (online survey and roundtables) with its members in the English regions and Wales on the issue of where housing land should come from.

Read also the Institute’s 16 Ways to Solve the Housing Crisis.

Watch our video and read our briefing on green belts.