DEBATE: Has the time come to start building on the green belt?

British fox hunters ride out in the earl
One percent of the green belt could accommodate up to 20,000 new homes (Source: Getty)

Has the time come to start building on the green belt?

Thomas Wagemaakers, research manager at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says YES.

It’s a common misconception that all green belt land is lush rolling fields.

However, our recent mapping exercise found that at least one per cent of the so-called green belt is made up of “brownspace” – disused, derelict or poorly-used land.

That one percent, equivalent to 500 football pitches, could potentially accommodate up to 20,000 new homes.

The London Chamber of Commerce found that the majority – 54 per cent – of London’s Blue Light emergency services staff (police, firefighters, and paramedics) now live outside the capital. We are told by their representatives that this is mainly because of housing costs.

This could have an impact on resilience – particularly with an incident of prolonged duration.

With the new London Plan under review, the mayor should consider a limited and targeted invention to provide affordable homes for the men and women that serve our city with such dedication.

It is nonsensical that derelict, poor quality land has protected status, while emergency services personnel often have to endure long commutes prior to starting their shift.

Read more: This business group wants to use the green belt to house emergency staff

Laura Perrins, co-editor of the Conservative Woman website, says NO.

The destruction of the London skyline is complete, so now it’s time for the green belt.

The green belt stops suburban sprawl and towns merging into one. It also gives people in towns and cities access to green space for their children and recreation. It is a resource that improves the lives of town and suburban dwellers, but despite all these benefits, we are told that it must be destroyed because of the housing crisis.

And when all the houses we need are built on the green belt, what will be left? Where will children and families go for recreation, and how will we maintain the character of towns and villages?

No doubt, the “anywheres” out there care not a jot for such things as character of towns or green spaces, but other people do value them. It gives them a sense of belonging, a sense of community, and sense of home. It is worth protecting.

Read more: Failure to act on green belt a "big disappointment", Tories say

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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