The Green Belt

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA)
  1. 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)


Poor quality 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.

 Celebrating 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 heating schemes.

 TCPA Director Gideon Amos said:

 “The 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."

 Beaufort Court 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.

 Anna Stanford 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 development needs.

 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.

 Commenting on 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 flood risk.

Unable to comment at this time, but it does show one side of the increasing pressure on the green belt.


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