Green belt review must place social value at its heart, urges the Land Trust as it reveals £5bn opportunity

New Chancellor Rachel Reeves has layed out plans to write to local councils and planning authorities to review green belt boundaries, while also prioritising “brownfield and grey belt land” for housing needs.

Alan Carter, Chief Executive at the Land Trust, said the planning system is in urgent need of reform and a review of existing green belt is a proactive first step.

“We acknowledge that there are many issues which need to be balanced in this review,” he said. “However, whether building on green belt or brownfield land, it is essential that consideration is given to green spaces within development that occurs – and that these green spaces are well managed to ensure they deliver ongoing social, environmental and economic benefits for the whole community.

“The Land Trust has calculated that if the new government’s commitment of building 1.5 million homes is met over the next parliament, there is also potential to deliver an estimated £5bn worth of social value from the green infrastructure and open space alone.

“However, to achieve this, social value must be embedded from the outset, along with on-going, sustainable funding, and provision for high quality management and stewardship in the longer-term. This can all be provided and secured through the planning process in a transparent and appropriate way. If secured and planned properly, this can save money for the public purse, create value, and help deliver economic growth, all at no cost to the taxpayer.”

The Trust’s analysis used figures from an Economic and Social Value model created to measure the benefits delivered across health and wellbeing, the environment and biodiversity, community and place, education, as well the economic benefits.

A breakdown of the figures showed social value has the potential to deliver circa £1.17m per annum in fiscal savings, as well as wider economic value, plus could generate almost £1.69m per annum of GVA (Gross Value Added) contribution.

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