News - Construction News

Greenbelt construction halves

Countrywide has revealed research that shows the number of new homes built within the Greenbelt in England has halved in the last ten years.

The research has been carried out by Countrywide shows 96,000 new homes have been built on the Greenbelt since 1995 – some 3.5% of the 2.7M homes built in England between 1995 and 2014. This construction peaked in 2001 – with 6,700 new homes constructed, but since then the number and proportion has drastically fallen, to just 3,248 in 2014.

Over the last five years Greenbelt development has been concentrated on land surrounding growing cities in southern England, which reflects the demand for housing and a wider trend of new home delivery concentrated in the south. The research that shows Greenbelt development in London accounts for 48% of all Greenbelt development across England.

Commenting Johnny Morris, Group Research Director, Countrywide plc, said: “While development is generally prohibited within the Greenbelt a small number of homes are given permission to be built. Many of these development sites would be at odds with common perceptions of greenbelt. Rather than picturesque countryside being concreted over, these sites were either brownfield, infill schemes or unused land with little amenity value.

“Sustained pressure, particularly in the South, to get more homes built and government plans to take a tougher line on local authorities with out of date plans, will likely see more homes built on Greenbelt in future years. Just returning to the rates of development on Greenbelt seen in the early noughties would yield an extra 5,000 new homes a year.

“Research by Countrywide published earlier in 2015 showed around the 80 railway stations in the Greenbelt on the fringes of cities across England, there is enough unused land in areas within walking distance of those train stations to accommodate nearly half a million new homes. Given the chronic shortage of new homes in certain areas, we concluded we may not have the luxury of overlooking these potential sites.”