In the North West, 59% of councillors on planning committees are opposed to reviewing Green Belt restrictions

More than half of regional councillors opposed to Green Belt review

With voters across the North West heading to the polls today to chose their local council representatives, research has revealed that 59% of those sitting on planning committees in the region are opposed to Green Belt review – although two thirds believe the housing crisis is getting worse.

The Planning Committee Barometer is compiled by Newgate Communications and takes its results from a poll issued to 5.500 councillors sitting on planning committees throughout England, with the 2018 survey receiving 670 responses.

At 67%, the volume of North West councillors who believe that the housing crisis is deepening is higher than the national average. Just 9% said they believe the situation is improving, suggesting that the government’s efforts to enable the market aren’t yet having an effect. The national average for those who would’nt support a Green Belt review is 45%.

The findings were trailed by Newgate’s managing partner Rebecca Eatwell at Place’s RESI 2018 conference last month. She said: “It was interesting to see the contrast between the North West and other regions when it came to protecting the Green Belt. This most likely reflects the greater pressures on delivering affordable housing in other parts of the country.

“That said it’s true of all areas that while there is some Green Belt that is sacrosanct there’s also plenty that’s low value. It’s certainly the case that not all Green Belt was created equal and I think we’re long overdue a rational debate about it.”

In the third key finding, 55% said that they believe developers to be using viability assessments to avoid planning obligations, with developers also taking flak in other areas –  44% of North West respondents said that slow build-out rates are to blame, with just 21% pointing to community opposition as the main cause of low completion rates.

However, a lack of engagement seems to be a failing. The research found that nationally only 18% of local authorities actively encourage conversations between committee members and developers on planning applications, while 13% reported being actively discouraged to engage.

Sharing top place as councillors’ main concerns were providing affordable homes for future generations and ensuring economic growth and job creation, but these only narrowly topped preserving the Green Belt. Although 73% felt that more affordable homes needed to be delivered, a tenth of regional councillors said affordability was not an issue in their local authority area, which is higher than the national average.

Eatwell said: “Local councillors clearly think that the housing crisis is getting worse and there was a general feeling in the research that developers are a big part of the problem. I think this reflects a wider reputational issue facing the industry at present.

“Yet we work with many housebuilders and developers that are genuinely trying to create sustainable communities that deliver inclusive growth. The contribution that the housing sector makes to both local communities and the national economy is often overlooked. I’d argue it’s time to stop apportioning blame and for local councillors to work with developers to tackle the issue together.”

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Fyi, the image used here is not Greenbelt.
Why not use a big dirty brownfield site which resides within the GB to illustrate your point?

By PJ & Duncan

Rebecca Eatwell is hardly an independent observer – working for big house builders and others in the development industry. Of course they want to develop Green Belt – it’s easy, and provides the current huge and unjustified profits for volume builders and landowners alike, . If we want to create communities we want to live in, then we need to ignore silly ‘stories’ like this, and start regenerating our towns and cities. British planning used to be the envy of the world – now we have been reduced to this.

By Peter Black

Its too easy of a political position to damn greenbelt development but then also damn the housing crisis.

Its basically like accepting that there is an issue but then refusing to allow it to be resolved. The idea that all brownfield land can accommodate our housing needs is naive and really stands as nothing more than a political gambit to shift blame. Much of the potentially available brownfield land is either financial un-viable or technically un-viable, assuming it is actually available in the first place.

By QuaysMan

It is impossible to overstate how clueless the debate bout the underlying issue with the provision of house building in this country is. Yes, developers have got lazy and feel they are entitled to make a 20% profit for the most basic of approaches and look to the low hanging fruit of green field sites. But ultimately the end price / allocation of housing is down to the cost of land and government won’t intervene. It’s not rocket science to note that the only time national house building in the private sector increased was off the back of new towns – and what did they have not available today? Cheap land assembly powers. The inability of councils to contribute social housing stock to ‘flatten’ the market and provide wider tenure choice due to restriction on borrowing is also a major factor.

In addition to this the Green Belt does need review. If anyone thinks that we’re “concreting over the countryside” they need to look out the window when flying into Manchester airport.

By Sceptic

To be fair her comments are simply reporting on the results of a a survey whereas Peter Black’s are simply his opinions based on a one man survey performed in his own head. I suspect there are several million more people living in the UK than during Peter’s halcyon days, however, as far as I’m aware, the UK’s land mass hasn’t got any bigger. Incidentally Peter, regeneration of Britain’s towns and cities has already started, have a look around next time you’re in town.

By Graham Barrington

Lots of Green Belt, around places like Wigan, and near the motorways at Bury, is just scrub land…we NEED new homes..

By Schwyz

Image does indeed show existing Greater Manchester Green Belt making up some 47% of the total area of Greater Manchester.

By LA Planner

Thanks for the stat LA Planner.
Image may have changed 7hours on…

By PJ & Duncan

Greenbelt, Once its gone its gone!! I am convince our little Island will sink.


Here we go again with this six monthly argument.

Firstly, the Greenbelt was established around London in the 30’s and expanded across the UK into the 50’s. It has not changed much since then. Image we lived in a world where the other aspects of our lives have not moved on since the 50’s!

Secondly, for the likes of CBA, less than 9% of England and Less than 6% of the UK is built on ( ). I think we can afford a bit more of it to be built on before we join the Atlantians.

By Mis-Manager