Future of Green Belt Policy


Green belt policy has been shown to have a number of positive effects since the implementation of the Metropolitan Green Belt around London which was the first protected open space in the UK. It was the green belt policy that helped protect the unique character of rural communities, historic towns, natural environment and landscape by strict restriction of building activities within the designated areas. It has also improved quality of air in urban centres and provided a number of recreational opportunities in the natural and semi-natural environment to the urban dwellers. For that reason green belts were created by many other urban centres in the UK over the last 50 years.

No one questions the positive effects of green belt policy, however, its critics have pointed out to several factors that may threaten the future of the current green belt policy. First of all, it prevents the normal expansion of urban areas forcing the city dwellers to move further out and secondly, some areas are of poor quality or are poorly managed providing little or no benefits for the nearby population and the environment. Larger portions of land that are kept reserved for non-developmental purposes may also cause problems in providing enough housing units for the rising urban population, not to mention that they pose an obstacle to the expanding industries and businesses.


The Campaign for Protection of Rural England (CPRE) which played an important role in implementation of green belt policy warns against any revision of current boundaries. However, it seems that green belt policy may need revision in the future to meet the need for housing growth despite a number of positive effects it has on the environment and nearby population because the city population in the UK is expected to continue to grow.

Green belt policy does not appear to be under threat at the moment of writing, however, green belt areas require special attention. Any modifications of green belt boundaries should well thought through in order to preserve the landscape and meet the need for housing and economic growth at the same time. This, however, poses a unique challenge because according to the CPRE the permanence of green belt boundaries is crucial for both the environment and preservation of rural areas. From this point of view, the future of green belt policy appears uncertain as developmental plans across the country are directly threatening the boundaries of the existing green belt areas.