Green belt fears must not compromise appropriate rural development – The Yorkshire Post says

Should more housing be built in rural areas?Should more housing be built in rural areas?
Should more housing be built in rural areas?
THE increased pressure on the Green Belt, with four times as many houses earmarked for such land compared to just 2013, needs to be viewed through the prism of the Covid pandemic and lockdown.

Many of the schemes – and the CPRE says over 250,000 homes have been approved for former Green Belt land – may not be built; speculative applications, large and small, do skew the planning process.

And while the CPRE is right to call for more genuinely affordable homes rather than letting developers pay ‘lip service’ to their obligations, it must be careful not to discourage new building in rural areas.

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One feature of the pandemic has been a new-found appreciation of green spaces and a desire for some families to shun urban life in favour of idyllic countryside communities where the work-life balance can be more fulfilling (subject, of course to the availability of high-speed broadband).

How can pressure be eased on the green belt?How can pressure be eased on the green belt?
How can pressure be eased on the green belt?

This could, in turn, be an opportunity for some villages and market towns to become more sustainable – a lack of young families has been frequently cited for the loss of key amenities such as schools, health services, libraries and shops.

But this will also require communities, and also influential lobbying groups like the CPRE, to be more open-minded about future applications, and responses to changes in demographics, rather than allowing a culture of ‘Nimbyism’ to become even more entrenched. For, if this can be achieved in a way that complements Britain’s rural heritage, it will, in turn, help ease the pressure on those priceless parts of the Green Belt which deserve to be saved for the health and greater good of the nation.

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