Green belt (United Kingdom)

In British town planning, 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.

Designated areas of green belt in England; the Metropolitan Green Belt outlined in red

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.[1][2]

Green belt policy has been criticised for reducing the amount of land available for building and therefore pushing up house prices, as 70% of the cost of building new houses is the purchase of the land (up from 25% in the late 1950s).[3]