Skip to content

CPRE finds that the Green Belt is facing extreme and sustained pressure

Andy Smith
By Andy Smith
2nd March 2021

Green Belt is the countryside next door for 30 million people living in our largest towns and cities. One of the primary roles of the Green Belt is to maintain the openness of the countryside, and it encourages housing to be placed near to where we work and the amenities we need.

Despite a surge in demand for time in green space, the Green Belt is facing extreme and sustained pressure, according to new research from CPRE, the countryside charity. The annual State of Greenbelt 2021 report reveals there are currently 0.25 million (257,944) homes proposed to be built on land removed from the Green Belt, which is over four times as many (475% increase) as in 2013.

With only one in ten considered affordable, these new homes will do little to tackle the affordable housing crisis. Furthermore, they are being built at a density of 14 houses per hectare, which is far below that of developments outside the Green Belt. Of the Green Belt land developed, 74% of this was previously greenfield land, an increase of 8% since the previous report.

CPRE has shown that there is space for over one million homes on brownfield land across England.

Photo of a family looking over the Surrey Countryside

Greater appreciation for greenspaces since lockdown

A new poll, conducted by Opinium on behalf of CPRE, shows a surge in appreciation for local green spaces since the first lockdown, much of which are located in our Green Belts, and found that:

  • Over two thirds (67%) of adults think protecting and enhancing green spaces should be a higher priority after lockdown;
  • Nearly half (46%) reported visiting green spaces more since the start of lockdown – a dramatic 11 percentage point increase since April 2020;
  • 59% reported they are more aware of the importance of these local green spaces for our mental health and wellbeing since lockdown.

Commenting on the findings, Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:

“To make sure we protect and enhance the Green Belt while allowing for the genuinely affordable new homes that are sorely needed, CPRE is urging the government to put people and nature at the heart of the forthcoming Planning Bill.”

Read the full report here.