The Greenbelt 2018


On 24th July 2018 the Government published a revised National Planning Policy Framework document, setting out its planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. The aim of the Framework is to help planners, developers, and councils to build more homes, more quickly, in the places people want to live.

This first major overhaul to the Framework in six years includes greater freedoms for building on brownfield land. It gives further clarification to the existing protections for the Green Belt, setting out the steps which a local planning authority must take before concluding that "exceptional circumstances" exist to allow boundaries of the Green Belt to be altered.  The draft NPPF also introduces a new standardised approach to assessing housing need which helps to ensure that new homes are delivered in areas of high demand and "clarifies the primacy of local and neighbourhood plan policies in determining planning applications".

In June 2018 Gravesham Council ran a consultation on their "Site Allocations and Development Management Policies" documents to give residents the opportunity to feed in views on their proposals for the future of planning in the Borough.

Gravesham Borough Council have confirmed to Adam that they remain focused on concentrating development on the brownfield land in the urban core of the Borough.  At the same time, their view  is that the increased housing requirement is greater than the remaining capacity that can be that can be identified on brownfield land.  Whilst some landowners and developers have submitted sites for consideration, including some in the Greenbelt, the Council estimates that there is a gap of about 2,000 between their Objectively Assessed Housing Need and the land currently identified as developable for housing.  They also need to identify land for employment and other uses.

Adam's Work on this Issue

Whilst Adam recognises the need to increase the rate of house-building in the UK (due to longer life expectancy, more single households and massive uncontrolled immigration), he finds these developments very worrying and is actively involved in representing the interests of constituents who, like him, are concerned by the threat to the Kent countryside.

Adam regularly hosts meetings with representatives of local Parish Councils to discuss this issue and is closely involved with the work of the Gravesham Rural Residents Group (“GRRG”), an umbrella group that seeks to promote communication across local action groups in the borough. The group’s main aim is to ensure that Brownfield sites are fully exploited before building on the Greenbelt is considered, to ensure investment is put in to areas where it is most needed, and to ensure developers build on sites when they get planning permission.  The GRRG takes the view, which Adam shares, that building on greenbelt should be a last resort and in such cases of necessity should be limited to small-scale developments of less than 15 dwellings.

In July 2018 Adam asked the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what powers the Government would have under the draft revised National Planning Policy Framework to compel local councils to fulfil their objectively assessed housing need in areas where there is insufficient or inadequate infrastructure to support development. To see the response please click here: []