Green BeltInformation

Green Belt

Green Belt myths:
CPRE’s guide to what you need to know

Recent reports focus on weakening Green Belt protection to allow greater freedom for large house builders.

However, the arguments within these reports are based on a highly selective reading of the relevant evidence, and give little consideration to the wide range of benefits provided by Green Belt policy.

They urgently need to be challenged.

Green Belt policy was established in 1955 primarily to stop urban sprawl.

There are now 14 separate areas of Green Belt that cover 13% of England; mostly open land and countryside around the largest or most historic towns and cities. CPRE has campaigned for Green Belts since our formation in 1926. We remain a strong supporter of Green Belt policy, which aims to provide a permanently protectedbelt of open land through tight controls over certain forms of development.

Metropolitan Green Belt

Our Natural Environment

In north Kent and south Essex there is a very limited amount of land esignated as Green Belt, which is one of the reasons it is so cherished.The green belt is a policy for controlling urban growth. The idea is for a ring of countryside where urbanisation will be resisted for the foreseeable future, maintaining an area where agriculture, forestry and outdoor leisure can be expected to prevail.


The fundamental aim of green belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open, and

consequently the most important attribute of green belts is their openness.The Metropolitan Green Belt around London was first proposed by the Greater London Regional Planning Committee in 1935. The Town and Country Planning Act 1947 then allowed local authorities to include green belt proposals in their development plans. In 1955, Minister of Housing Duncan Sandys encouraged local authorities around the country to consider protecting land around their towns and cities by the formal designation of clearly defined green belts. 

The proposed Lower Thames Crossing will cut a swath through what little there remains of the green belt in

Kent and Essex. It is clear that the proposals are no longer a congestion relief project as originally envisaged; it is all about economic development and growth similar to the ribbon development that generated great concern in the United Kingdom during the 1920s and the 1930s as well as in numerous other countries.