|The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA)
1919 to 1955 -
Green Belt history
Originally rural belts emerged as part of the vision for Garden Cities at the
end of the nineteenth centuryand the TCPA’s Annual Report of 1919 included a
statement from the Executive calling for towns to be “surrounded by a rural
belt”. The Association continued campaigning for green belts throughout both
world wars for example the 19th June 1937 issue of Town & Country
Planning Journal published a new policy statement calling for towns to be
“surrounded by a permanent country belt”. In 1944 TCPA Council member and
Vice President Sir Patrick Abercrombie first put Green Belts into planning
practice in his Greater London Plan of 1944 for Herbert Morrison the Leader of
the London County Council. Abercrombie was also the founder of Council for the
Preservation of Rural England. In 1955 the Minister for Housing and Local
Government, Duncan Sandys, issued the first Government policy on Green Belts
that urged all local authorities to protect any land acquired around their
towns and cities "by the formal designation of clearly defined Green
Belts," the statement was warmly welcomed by the Association. The circular set
out the aims of Green Belt policy as "checking the unrestricted sprawl of the
built-up areas, and of safeguarding the surrounding countryside against
further encroachment". See Ministry of Housing and Local Government Green
Belt Circular 42/55. The Circular marks the first acknowledgement from
the Government that the primary purpose of Green Belts is to halt urban sprawl
and protect the countryside, rather than to provide land for the nutritional
and recreational needs of cities. Most importantly, Green Belts were always
seen as complementing the need for well-planned towns and cities both new and
existing. See also Hardy, D (1991) “From Garden Cities to New Towns”
E&FN Spon, London.
A copy of the press release is given below:
(just as well I copied it because it can't be found on the
tcpa site now! Ed)
TURN GREEN BELTS INTO ‘ECO-BELTS’ SAY TCPA
green belt land should be reclaimed to create ‘eco-belts’ ensuring land around
towns is used for ecological and sustainable projects such as new community
woodland, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) said today.
the fiftieth anniversary of the national green belts policy today the TCPA
reinforced the ongoing importance of green belts in preventing urban sprawl.
However, the TCPA
has called for green belt land - often neglected scrubland with no discernible
environmental or social value – to be reclaimed for environmental projects such
as the creation of wildlife habitats, organic gardens for local markets, or
small scale biomass power stations to supply heat and power through district
Gideon Amos said:
TCPA was the first organization to call for permanent rural or green belts back
in 1919 and continues to campaign for them to play a positive role stopping
sprawl and providing a backdrop for towns and cities.
“But too much green belt has now become a derelict wasteland of rubbish dumps
and abandoned buildings – it’s time to turn green belts into eco-belts
fulfilling a whole range of functions that will support a more sustainable way
of living for our people and the environment. Instead of being treated as a
derelict buffer zone between town and country, the emphasis should be on making
this land truly green and pleasant.
”Local communities should have better access to this hugely important amenity
for recreation, local food production and wildlife habitat."
is an award winning example of sustainable green belt development, and the
world’s first zero emissions commercial development. The derelict Ovaltine Egg
Farm buildings were transformed to become a model of sustainable building design
and small-scale renewable energy generation on green belt land.
Communications Manager said:
"The much-loved 1930s
buildings were lying derelict and un-used. With the support and guidance of the
local council, we have breathed new life into them to create an award-winning
example of sustainable development and green energy generation. Re-using an
existing site rather than building anew is inherently sustainable and we have
also created local economic benefits and job opportunities outside of London,
reducing the need to commute. The response from the local community to the
re-development as a whole has been overwhelmingly supportive and the wind
turbine in particular has become a positive addition to the local landscape."
The TCPA are
calling for a more flexible and holistic approach to green belts - taking
account of the quality of the surrounding countryside, the scope for development
of brownfield land within the urban area itself, the capacity of the existing
transport infrastructure, and any local affordable housing, or economic
In addition, the
government should reinforce the positive land use role of green belts (envisaged
in PPG2 paragraph 1.6) so that, in return for green belt status, local planning
policies make specific provision for countryside access; sport and outdoor
recreation; landscape protection and enhancement; the reparation of damaged and
derelict land; nature conservation; and farming and forestry and related uses.
The TCPA also
states that policies to promote sustainable land management with mixed organic
farming and community woodlands should allow, where appropriate, small scale,
low-impact, live-work units for those engaging in local food production,
woodland crafts, and other land-based activities.
the debate about the loss of green belt in some areas, the TCPA highlighted how
green wedges can help link town and country as well as prevent urban sprawl.
Rather than have a 'belt' of green space these wedges can be made more integral
to the urban fabric yet adopt a similar role to the original green belts. The
loss of green belt in one place could then be made up for elsewhere, in a
'wedge' which is more accessible to local people, absorbs pollution and reduces
Unable to comment at this time, but it does show one side of the
increasing pressure on the green belt.