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Is the Green Belt slipping?

by Paul Addison on August 21, 2015 No comments

Chancellor George Osborne has said he wants to reform planning laws to make it easier for villages in England to build new starter homes. The changes would allow councils to allocate more sites for building homes specifically for people who already live or work in the area.

As part of package of reforms that includes improving transport, schools and broadband in rural areas to boost the rural economy, the Government’s “starter homes” scheme, which was announced before the election for brownfield sites, would also be extended to some villages.

The initiative offers young local first-time home buyers a 20% discount on the price of the property. As it stands, the discount will be offered on homes up to £250,000 outside London and £450,000 inside London.

Dynamism or stagnation in our villages?

At the heart of the political debate is striking the balance between housing supply, affordable homes and local interests. Critics argue that the Government wants to stimulate development by loosening requirements for developers on the proportion of affordable homes. At the same time, the flight of young people to the cities and more affordable property undermines the rural dynamism that is being sought after – Difficult to square the circle.

Equally, 60,000 people are moving from the city to the countryside each year so supply is an issue regardless of the residents. Osborne has pledged to continue to protect the Green Belt but said he wanted to “make it easier for people to stay in their rural communities and for newcomers to settle there too”.

He cites that in a recent survey of rural businesses the main barrier to growth that most identified was planning restrictions. In the short term, they will review rules around agricultural buildings such as barns to allow rural businesses to expand more easily.

Rural fabric at risk?

The Campaign for Rural England has welcomed the government’s recognition that rural areas could boost the economy, but it voiced concern that the “beautiful English countryside” was at risk of “inappropriate developments”.

They felt it was likely that commuters would be able to outbid local families, taking advantage of the discount which would not continue on resale – and therefore there would be no incentive for local people to back any new developments.

The green and pleasant land faces many economic and physical challenges ahead. Those wishing to purchase property in previously thought of rural idylls may face dramatic changes to countryside views, infrastructure and noise in the future. For some this means vibrancy and opportunity – for others it could mean loss of value on their property assets.

DevAssist exists to provide property buyers with informed choices about how the planning landscape could change around them. Our interpreted planning reports reveal risk or opportunity as we decipher the redrawing of land use zone boundaries and what this means financially to them.

For more information on DevAssist and its suite of reports, call us today on 01342 890010 or email

Paul AddisonIs the Green Belt slipping?

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