Mayor not moving on Green Belt

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has strengthened his commitment to protect London’s Green Belt and other important open spaces for future generations and set out plans to help make more than half of London green by 2050.

He says his draft London Plan – which is being launched on November 29, 2017 – strengthens safeguards which prevent harmful development on vital green land both within and surrounding the capital.

He says any planning application which involves building on the Green Belt will be refused by the Mayor if it does not meet strict rules on what is appropriate, such as replacing existing buildings with new ones of a similar scale or the provision of new agricultural buildings.

London’s Green Belt makes up almost a quarter of the capital’s land area and benefits London’s air quality, as well as helping reduce the risk and impact of flooding and providing habitats for London’s wildlife. However, this also makes it one of the most significant constraints on development and the provision of new homes. Some commentators have been hoping for a more flexible approach to Green Belt to allow the development of some of the less “green and pleasant” elements as housing.

Earlier this year Sadiq announced his ambition for London to become the UK’s first National Park City, a key part of which will be increasing the capital’s green cover to more than 50 per cent by 2050.

The draft London Plan also includes guidelines for increasing green infrastructure (such as street trees, green roofs, green walls and rain gardens) and a framework to help boroughs and developers determine how much should be required in new developments.

The guidelines make it clear that green infrastructure must form an integral part of new developments, rather than an ‘add-on’, and will be judged against a number of criteria, including promoting wellbeing, enhancing biodiversity and improving air and water quality.

Sadiq will also instruct his City Hall team to review and update existing planning guidelines on the “All London Green Grid” – London’s strategic green infrastructure framework – to help boroughs to prepare their own local green infrastructure strategies.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “When I became Mayor I made it clear that delivering more of the genuinely affordable housing that Londoners so urgently need would be one of my top priorities.

“London needs 66,000 new homes every year to meet its increasing need and put right years of underinvestment. But development must not be done at any cost: the Green Belt is the lungs of the capital and must be protected.

“I firmly believe we can build the homes Londoners need without sacrificing the Green Belt. This will mean more development on brownfield land, town centres becoming denser, incorporating more green infrastructure in our streets and developments and being more creative with how we develop the hundreds of small sites across the capital.

“Since I took office I have refused a number of developments which would have caused harm to the Green Belt. With my new London Plan I’m sending a clear message to developers that building on or near the Green Belt must respect and protect this vital natural resource.”

The recently published Natural Capital Account for London’s Public Green Spaces highlights the significant economic benefit of protecting and investing in London’s green infrastructure. The account shows London’s green spaces provide services valued at £5 billion per year, including £950 million per year in avoided health costs.

The draft London Plan will also strengthen protections for Metropolitan Open Land (MOL), which is a network of strategic, designated green spaces within the capital and make up a significant part of London’s existing green infrastructure.

The Plan also encourages boroughs to protect existing allotments and provide space for community gardening, including growing food, in new developments.

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