The UK needs to build on both greenbelt and brownfield sites to kick-start levels of housebuilding across the UK, senior technical manager of John Charcol Ray Boulger has warned.
On Friday the government unveiled plans to reform brownfield planning permissions by offering automatic planning permissions on brownfield sites, but Boulger reckoned that won’t cut it alone.
He highlighted greenbelt sites close to railway stations which he said should be utilised for environmental reasons and to boost infrastructure in smaller towns.
Boulger said: “It’s wrong to take the view that all greenbelt is sacrosanct forever.
“Building properties close to railway stations should cut down emissions as a large number of people in those homes will commute.”
He added: “90% of the UK is not built on. It would be illogical to think you can’t use 1 or 2% of the land without hurting people who love open spaces.”
He agreed that you can’t build everywhere, as he brought up areas of ‘outstanding natural beauty’ such as national parks as areas where housebuilders need to stay away.
Currently local communities choose where to build in their local areas after being given targets from the government.
When finding fresh areas to build on Boulger identified Nimbyism from local residents as an issue. Nimby is an acronym for ‘not in my back yard’, and refers to residents opposing new developments which are close to them despite agreeing that they are necessary.
Boulger reckoned that the government needs to offer councils and local residents incentives to tackle Nimbyism.
Boulger said: “In rural areas there are fewer bus services and amenities, but by boosting local populations you could justify expanding bus services or building a sports centre for example.
“The government could also say to councils that if you maintain extra levels of housebuilding we will resource you by taking less money off you.
“It could adjust the block grant or larger chunks of business rates could go back to the local authority. There are several different methods the government could use to incentive the local authority to build more homes.”