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Regional Planning and Development: Greenbelt

Volume 482: debated on Wednesday 5 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which regional spatial strategies proposed the weakening of green belt protection in specific locations in the most recent drafts submitted to her Department. (230304)

Regional spatial strategies (RSS) do not express any planning policies which refer to specific sites, they identify broad locations. Emerging RSSs are recommending green belt reviews as follows:

North East

Policy 9.5 ensures that the green belt continues to safeguard the countryside from encroachment and check the unrestricted sprawl of Tyne and Wear. The supporting text notes that the general extent of the region's green belt should be maintained, rather than weakened, with detail boundaries to be defined in local development frameworks.

North West

Policy RDF4 indicates that there is no need for any exceptional substantial strategic change to the green belt before 2021 in Warrington and 2011 in the rest of the region. After 2011 there will be presumption against such change but strategic studies could indicate the need for change and indicate options for implementation, which would be fed into review of RSS.

Policy RDF4 does allow for potential changes to the green belt of a more localised and detailed nature to be addressed through LDF process but only with agreement of the regional planning body. The policy confers such agreement on potential green belt changes associated with expansion of Manchester and Liverpool airports and a multi-model freight proposal at Newton le Willows.

Yorkshire and Humber

RSS policy YH9 confirms that the extent of green belt should not change, but that green belt round York needs defining. Specific mention is also made of a potential need for strategic review of the West Yorkshire green belt, which extends into Leeds, Wakefield, Calderdale and Kirklees.

West Midlands

The west midlands regional spatial strategy Phase 2 revision Preferred Option identifies the need for the release of green belt round Coventry and Redditch which will be considered by an independent panel at the Examination in Public next year.

East Midlands

In their report on the Draft East Midlands RSS the independent panel recommended that the Nottingham-Derby green belt

“should be recast so as to provide a separation between Nottingham and Derby without surrounding the city of Nottingham.”

In the Proposed Changes, issued for consultation in July 2008, the Secretary of State disagreed with the panel's recommendation. Instead the principle of Nottingham-Derby green belt was reaffirmed, and it was not accepted that sufficient evidence had been advanced to justify the wholesale deletion of the green belt elsewhere as recommended by the panel.

East of England

The published RSS, issued in may, says there should be a local review of green belt in Broxbourne, and that strategic reviews of green belt boundaries to meet regional development needs are needed in:

Stevenage, including land in North Hertfordshire;

Hemel Hempstead, involving land in Dacorum and probably St. Albans District;

Harlow, including land in East Hertfordshire and Epping Forest;

Welwyn/Hatfield, potentially including land in St Albans District; and

Luton/ Dunstable/Houghton Regis and Leighton Linslade.

South East

The current regional plan (2001) does not seek to review any green belt. The Government's Proposed Changes to its draft replacement (the South East Plan) include proposals for selective green belt release at Oxford and Guildford, and possibly south of Woking. Where reviews result in the loss of green belt land the draft states that a broader review should be considered to determine whether additional land should be designated. The Secretary of State is working to finalise the plan by early next year.

South West

Following consideration of the recommendations of the independent panel that considered the draft RSS, the Secretary of State published her proposed changes to the RSS in July 2008. These include proposals to revise the general extent of the Bristol and Bath, Gloucester and Cheltenham and South East Dorset green belts to accommodate urban extensions as part of the most sustainable solution for delivering housing and other development. Changes are also proposed to the general extent of the Bristol and Bath green belt to provide for regionally significant development at Bristol International airport and the Port of Bristol, and to the south-east Dorset green belt to provide for development at Bournemouth airport. The Proposed Changes are currently the subject of public consultation; which ends on 24 October 2008.

London

The published London Plan, February 2008 (consolidated with alterations since 2004), does not propose any changes to the London green belt.