Green Belt: South East

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 29th November 2018.

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Photo of Rehman Chishti Rehman Chishti Conservative, Gillingham and Rainham

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to protect green spaces in the South East.

Photo of Kit Malthouse Kit Malthouse Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Government is committed to protecting our environment. As set out on the 25 Year Environment Plan, we are drawing up a national framework of green infrastructure standards, ensuring that new developments include accessible green spaces and that any area with little or no green space can be improved for the benefit of the community. We intend to publish the standards in 2019 and incorporate them into planning guidance so that councils can use them when making planning decisions across the country - including in the south east.

Our revised planning rule book sets out how new development should happen in right places across the country including in the south east, through:

  • making as much use as possible of suitable brownfield and under-used land;
  • optimising density of development, significantly raising minimum densities in town and city centres, and in other locations well served by public transport;
  • maintaining strong protection of the Green Belt;
  • making clear that existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land should not be built on unless they are clearly shown to be surplus to requirements or their loss would be replaced by equivalent or better provision in a suitable location;
  • setting out that council’s planning policies should include sufficient provision for the conservation and enhancement of green spaces;
  • highlighting the importance of green space in encouraging healthy lifestyles; and
  • making provision for communities to identify and protect green areas of particular importance to them through the designation of land as Local Green Space through local and neighbourhood plans, which gives them a very high level of protection from redevelopment or inappropriate use.

In September 2017, the Government created the ‘Parks Action Group’ comprising of experts from across the parks, heritage and the leisure sector and invested £500,000 to support the development of initiatives to identify solutions for safeguarding our parks and green spaces, to ensure they have long and sustainable futures.

The group has been working collaboratively across key priorities – including assessing quality standards and sharing good practice. We are currently developing a programme of work aimed at transforming the way in which green spaces are developed, managed and sustained.

We expect to announce our progress on this in early 2019.

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