On the 60th anniversary of Green Belt becoming government policy, a poll commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) finds that nearly two-thirds of people surveyed believe that Green Belt land should not be built on.
The Ipsos MORI poll, published today, shows that 64% of people agree the Green Belt should be protected, while just 17% disagree.
Such strong support for Green Belt is demonstrated across a range of different groups, including people with children aged 5 and under, those renting from a local authority, and those on low incomes.
And more than six out of ten people (62%) who live in towns and cities support the protection of the Green Belt – a finding that casts doubt on the claims of critics that Green Belts do not benefit people who live in urban areas.
The Oxford Green Belt, one of the oldest in the country (established in 1958), has even greater support, with three-quarters of local residents in favour of protecting the Oxford Green Belt.
According to a survey commissioned by CPRE Oxfordshire in March 2015, 76% of Oxfordshire’s residents believe the Oxford Green Belt should remain open and undeveloped, with 66% seeing new housebuilding as the greatest threat.
Michael Tyce of CPRE Oxfordshire said: "There is overwhelming public support for the Green Belt in Oxfordshire. This is the case with very little variation for City and country residents, house owners and non-house owners, all of whom, acknowledging the need for more houses, overwhelmingly consider that the Green Belt should not be built on to provide them.
Yet despite the public’s strong support for the Oxford Green Belt, it is under greater threat than it has been in its 57-year history.
We call on local politicians to:
- make clear that they recognise the value of and public support for the Oxford Green Belt, and;
- commit to ensuring that planning authorities will respect this."
The anniversary poll comes just weeks after the Government re-emphasised its support for Green Belt protection at the launch of its Productivity Plan. But despite this support and existing protections, local communities have repeatedly found themselves fighting proposals to build on Green Belt land. CPRE research shows that 226,000 houses are currently planned for Green Belt land.
In response to this threat, CPRE is launching a new campaign, Our Green Belt, which calls on the Government to:
- be more specific on the limited circumstances in which Green Belt boundaries can be changed through local plans;
- call in or direct local authorities to refuse damaging developments in the Green Belt that are not identified in existing local or neighbourhood plans; and
- target public funding, through organisations such as Natural England and Local Enterprise Partnerships, to increase the quality of and access to Green Belt.
CPRE’s campaign aims to show why people value the Green Belt by inviting the public to submit photos and stories to a digital wall showing how they use and experience it.
CPRE has also published a Green Belt ‘myth-busting’ document to demonstrate why arguments to build on the Green Belt are misguided.
What you can do?
Submit photos and stories to CPRE's digital wall showing how you use and value the Oxford Green Belt.
CPRE Oxfordshire, 3 August