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Greenbelt Land

What is greenbelt and its future in the UK?

Greenbelt LandA greenbelt is an allotted space of land that is held in reserve for an area of public open space and for recreational purposes. Greenbelt land is normally undeveloped or densely populated land, which normally has been set back to enclose developments, prevent towns from merging and provide open space.

There are a few set purposes for these greenbelt areas which include keeping large areas from increasing larger and keeping them in one area, to keep neighboring towns from growing together, to protect the countryside from development, to preserve the characteristic and history of smaller towns, and to help with the rebirth of derelict areas within the urban area.

13% of England cover Green Belts. The largest Green Belt is the London Green Belt, at about 486,000 hectares. The smallest Green Belt is the Burton-Swadlincote Green Belt at just 700 hectares.

There are around 14 Green Belts throughout England. They vary in size from 486,000 hectares in the vicinity of London to around 700 hectares at Burton-on-Trent.

Woodlands are important in so many ways - as part of the Dales' rich landscape

The beginning of the greenbelt was in 1935 and was established by the Greater London Regional Planning Committee. It was not until 1947, that the Town and Country Planning Act allowed greenbelts to be included in their development plans and it was not until 1955 that the whole idea was beginning to be used throughout the UK.

If you purchase any land in a greenbelt area you cannot build until you receive planning permissions. The land can only be used for vegetables, grazing for farm animals, growing plants, hedging, trees or a way to enjoy nature as in a picnic.

Major development threats to Green Belt:

Cambridge Green Belt:
The Cambridgeshire Structure Plan Review Panel Report recommended removal of land from the Cambridge Green Belt.

London Green Belt:
Around 6,000 houses could be built on the Green Belt west of Stevenage, between Hitchin and Stevenage.

240 hectares of Green Belt could be lost if Gatwick gets approval for a second runway after 2019, as set out in the Aviation White Paper.

Green Belt boundaries are being reviewed in three of the Governments four growth areas in the greater South East: Upper Lee Valley, around Bishops Stortford, north and west of Stevenage and north of Harlow (in the London-Peterborough growth area); near Thurrock, south Essex (in the Thames Gateway growth area); around Luton, Dunstable, Houghton Regis, Leighton Buzzard and Linslade (in the Milton Keynes and South Midlands growth area).

North West Green Belt:
Another park and ride site may tarmac over the Green Belt outside Chester. The city council is proposing that a 1,200-car parking space development goes ahead, having already approved four earlier ones on Green Belt.

Nottingham and Derby Green Belt:
A sports venue is to be built, eating up nearly 10 hectares of Green Belt.

Oxford Green Belt :
Thousands of homes could be built in the Oxford Green Belt in the coming decades.

Poole Green Belt:
In the Government Office South Wests draft Vision for South East Dorset 2026, it suggests an option of building an urban extension into the Green Belt with thousands of homes.

South and West Yorkshire Green Belt:
Bradfords Unitary Development Plan, which has just been finalised, removed different parcels of land in Bradford North, Bradford South, Keighley and Shipley from Green Belt designation, clearing the way for development including housing.

10 hectares of Green Belt on the edge of Rotherham could be lost to a leisure development, which includes a theatre complex, TV studio, conference/convention centre, two hotels, cinema, bowling alley, sports centre, golf driving range, ancillary retail, food & drink, parking, rail station, bus termini.

Tyne and Wear Green Belt:
The expansion of Newcastle Falcons Training Ground at Kingston Park has taken 30 ha out of the strategic Green Belt around Tyne and Wear, allowed by the Secretary of State.

West Midlands Green Belt:
Plans to either widen the M6 north of the West Midlands conurbation or build a new M6 Expressway toll road would cut through the Green Belt. About half of the proposed M6 expressway between Wolverhampton and Stafford runs through Green Belt; a decision on this new tolled motorway is expected shortly.

York Green Belt:
117 hectares of Green Belt around York will be lost if York University gets approval for its plans. It has applied to extend its campus into the Green Belt, build roads, provide parking spaces for 1,500 cars and create a large business park. York City Council is in favour of the application but it has been referred to the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber, which has yet to decide whether to intervene.


source: cpre

The price of land is increasing because more people have the desire to move to the UK. This brings about a chain of events. There is not much land available where homes can be built to ensure that everyone that desires to live in the UK can find affordable housing. This jeopardizes the greenbelts.

Investors understand that land is a great tangible investment that can give them a solid investment in their future if they hold on to it until the proper time to sell. If you look around the UK, you will soon learn that the 100 richest people are landowners and property developers.

They understand that the need for housing developments is growing like never before and there is no end in site. There are very few plots of land for sale in prime locations around the UK, so they have invested well in land. They know they need to purchase land in the greenbelt areas and then just wait around for the planning permission to allow building and then they can sell this greenbelt land for a huge profit.

It has been noted that the Southeastern part of England will need several homes over the next 18 years to keep up with those that wish to move to this area. This means that their will be greenbelt land up for sale and the planning permissions will come in order to accommodate these people.

These land investors and developers have done their research and have seen that the profit they can receive with this land after planning permissions are given. In the Barker review of Housing Policy in 2004 it showed that, a hectare of land could rise from £8000 to £1.23 million after they receive planning permissions. So, if there is such a large profit to be made, investors and land developers are sure to take notice and try their best to push legislation to change laws governing the Green Belt.

There are changes now being made to the legislation that relates to the Green Belts and there will be more to come, as the interest in developing this land grows higher.

The future of the Green Belt is of course a major issue and is one that needs to be protected. However, housing accommodations must also be made for towns to grow without the fear of over populating an area.

The largest Green Belt is the London Green Belt, at about 486,000 hectares. The smallest Green Belt is the Burton-Swadlincote Green Belt at just 700 hectares.

-  James M

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