The ‘countryside next door’ is valued by millions of people, but it is also on the frontline of pressures for development. As the countryside charity, we want to set out ways in which the pressures can be managed, while protecting and enhancing the countryside around towns for future generations.
Around 22%, or just under 3 million hectares, of England’s land area consists of countryside within 5km of large towns and cities with populations greater than 100,000. Of this 3 million hectares, approximately half is designated as Green Belt. However, this designation does not mean that it is automatically protected from development; councils can and do release land from the green belt to meet housing targets. (The meadowland in Kinver pictured here was removed from the green belt in the 2018 South Staffordshire Site Allocations Document (SADPD).
In the West Midlands, the Association of Black Country Authorities (ABCA) is proposing to release land for nearly 27,000 homes in the Green Belt as part of its forthcoming Joint Plan, which would have knock-on effects on neighbouring areas.
CPRE West Midlands has commissioned a report
arguing that this level of development in the countryside is not genuinely needed and suggesting alternative actions to reduce the loss of countryside:
The report reviews the evidence for the Black Country Plan Review, published by the Association of Black Country Authorities (ABCA), considering the Urban Capacity Study and the Green Belt Review.
CPRE has written to the four Black Country boroughs (Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Sandwell), in addition to South Staffordshire District Council, Lichfield District Council and Cannock Chase District Council, as well as all local MPs, expressing our concerns over the plans to release Green Belt and the housing numbers calculation used.