London must build on low quality green belt spaces to solve its housing crisis, according to the Adam Smith Institute

James Nickerson
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London and surrounding counties need at least one million new homes in the next ten years, the report warns

London should build on low quality green belt spaces to solve the housing crisis, according to new research from free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute.

The think tank said one million new homes will be needed in the next 10 years and that low quality spaces around existing commuter infrastructure must be built on to meet housing demand.

Building on 20,000 acres of the Metropolitan Green Belt would create room for the new homes needed, nearly all of which could be built within 10 minutes' walk of a station, the report said.

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Tom Papworth, author of the report, said there is only enough brownfield land for a third of the one million homes needed, adding "greenfield development is no longer a question of 'if', but 'when'".

“Green belts are unsustainable. Green belt policy pushes up the cost of living, reduces people’s quality of life and actually harms the environment," he added.

"Yet it has become an article of faith among politicians and is staunchly defended by the citizens who live near the green belt, and those who value the notion but ignore the harm it does to others."

The research identifies some of the places which could be built on, including: Pinner Park Farm in Harrow, Theydon Bois, Redbridge and some of the hundreds of Green Belt golf courses.​

Read more: It's time for managed release of green belt land

With London’s mayoral election due in a few months, it is time to put housing at the top of the political agenda, Papworth said.

The report comes after a YouGov poll found that housing is the biggest issue for Londoners, with 61 per cent of those who live in the capital singling it out as top priority for the mayor.

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