Two-thirds of British people want the green belt area surrounding London to remain protected from new housing developments, according to a survey by Ipsos Mori.
By asking 845 people whether they thought the protected countryside should be used to relieve the housing shortage in the capital, 64 per cent said no, while just 17 per cent said yes. The remaining nine per cent did not give a definite answer.
The poll, which was carried out for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), found that supporters of the green belt fell into no particular category, with private renters, families with young children and council tenants all wanting to keep the land untouched.
There was also no difference in opinion between people from different economic backgrounds, or between people living in cities and in the countryside.
The government has expressed its intention to protect the green belt from being engulfed by the expanding capital, but the number of houses it intends to build there has been steadily rising. At the moment, it aims to build 226,000 new homes over the next few years, up from a target of just 81,000 new homes three years ago.
Housing minister Brandon Lewis said the government was giving the general public a say over the green belt's fate:
We have placed local plans at the heart of our planning system, giving local people a far greater say over the future development of their area. The figures released by CPRE are from potential developments that have not yet been agreed by their local communities, have not gone through the rigour of the planning system and are not planning permissions.We have put strong protections in place for the green belt, which mean that apart from land reclassified as National Park, there were 34,000 more hectares (84,000 acres) in the green belt in 2013-14 than in 1997.