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Green Belt

Volume 306: debated on Wednesday 11 February 1998

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to the Prime Minister's oral statement of 4 February 1998, Official Report, column 1046, regarding the increase in the area of green belt land since 1 May 1997, if he will list (a) the location and size of the increase, (b) the area of green belt land on which planning permission and inspectors' approval has been given since 1 May 1997, (c) the percentage of total green belt land these figures represent and (d) the equivalent figures for the year prior to 1 May 1997. [28489]

[holding answer 10 February 1998]: There has been a net increase of nearly 4,000 hectares of Green Belt in adopted development plans since 1 May 1997. The Hertfordshire Structure Plan, adopted in January, provides for an addition of 5,400 hectares to the Green Belt, as well as the deletion of 800 hectares from the Green Belt to the west of Stevenage. The exact boundaries of these changes have not yet been established at local plan level. Other Green Belt deletions have been adopted in the Bradford local plan (ca. 90 hectares) and in the Newcastle Unitary Development Plan (543 hectares).We do not have comprehensive information available on decisions taken by local planning authorities affecting the Green Belt, and it would be disproportionately costly to collect it. However, the figures for individual planning cases which the Secretary of State has called in and for which permission has been granted since 1 May 1997 amount to less than 100 hectares. For cases where permission has been granted by planning inspectors following appeal, the figure is about 320 hectares. In most or all of these cases the physical development itself is likely to have covered only a small proportion of that area. In addition, on 28 July 1997 the Secretary of State issued his decision granting permission for the Birmingham Northern Relief Road (BNRR), the route of which passes through Green Belt in the West Midlands conurbation. The total land taken for the BNRR (including temporary acquisition for the purpose of construction) is 623 hectares, of which 600 hectares are in the Green Belt. One hundred and seventeen hectares of the total land taken for the road are to be used for landscaping to mitigate its environmental impact; and land temporarily acquired will be returned to the landowner following completion of construction works.The total Green Belt in England was estimated as 1,555,700 hectares in September 1993. More recent figures are not yet available. Against that total, the net increase represented by development plan changes referred to above is equivalent to about 0.25 per cent.; and the total area of Green Belt affected by the planning permissions referred to in the previous paragraph represent around 0.06 per cent.Equivalent information for the year prior to 1 May 1997 could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.