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Erosion of green belt is not solving housing problem'

By Gemma Gardner

Alan James - Chairman of Cambridgeshire CPRE Picture: CPRE
Alan James - Chairman of Cambridgeshire CPRE Picture: CPRE

Building homes in the green belt in Cambridgeshire will not help people get on the property ladder, say campaigners.

The city’s green belt remains under pressure, with more than 2,000 homes likely to be built on land released from the once-protected area, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

They say the threat continues despite government commitments that countryside protections were being strengthened.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CPRE chairman Alan James says the green belt’s “erosion” is not addressing the problem of providing affordable housing.

“This strategic shrinking of the green belt, as a way of getting around its protected status, is as harmful as building on the green belt itself,” he said.

New analysis by the CPRE claimed that 72 per cent of homes built on sites within the protected areas last year could not be classed as “affordable” under the government’s own definition.

They now warn this will rise by six per cent this year as the government ups the number of homes it is building.

“Government and local government are failing in their commitment to protect the green belt, which is being eroded at an alarming rate,” said Mr James.

He added: “But if the green belt is to fulfil its main purpose and provide access to the benefits of the countryside, it is essential the redevelopment of brownfield land is prioritised and green belt protection strengthened.”

Mr James says that local government returns show that in and around Cambridge there is potential to build up to 15,500 homes on brownfield sites.

He cites the northern fringe area around Cambridge North station and sewage works.

“These are areas where there is a clear need for housing – and affordable housing,” he said.

“The government and local authorities must ensure places like these are redeveloped before any more land is released from the green belt.”

A spokesman from the Housing, Communities and Local Government department said: “We are adding more certainty to the planning system and our new planning rulebook strengthens national protections for the green belt.”


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