SINCE 1947, local authorities have been allowed to protect green belts in their development plans. It’s a concept that has been viewed as sacrosanct, but for how much longer?
Nationally we need to build 250,000 new homes a year for the next three decades if we are to address the problem of not enough homes to go round. And that will almost certainly involve compromise over where they can go.
York has one of England’s 14 designated green belts and it has never been under greater pressure, because we have an even more chronic housing shortage than most.
But builders prefer open fields. It’s easier that way and they seem to be getting their own way because more than 85 per cent of York’s land proposed for development is on established greenbelt.
This flies in the face of national planning policy which clearly states that brownfield sites must be developed first and greenbelt land should only be used as a ‘very last resort’.
For years, though, we have been told York has a limited supply. Now a Government survey suggests that’s not the case at all. Indeed York Central has almost as many brownfield sites as Sheffield Central and one of the highest concentrations of them in the country.
Of course that has set the politicians off. Some call the figures outdated, others say they are shocking. The truth will probably lie somewhere in between, but there is a lesson to be learned; Brownfield sites should be the first option. That said, further development in the countryside should not be discounted altogether because many families don’t want to live in the city and, in York’s case, simply can’t afford to.