10 July 2024
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Adjusting one's belt for growth? The UK Government's proposals for green belt reform

To The Point
(5 min read)

Early announcements in the wake of the UK General Election confirm that green belt reform is high up on the Government's immediate growth agenda as part of a wider package of planning reform.  This is unsurprising in the context of Labour's Manifesto, but it remains less clear what the promised reforms will look like in practice.  This briefing looks at Labour's proposals for the green belt to the extent that they have been articulated so far, how the Government might go about implementing the proposed changes and sets out our thoughts on what the Government should also consider if it wants to meaningfully achieve its ambitions.


Hot on the heels of its General Election victory, the new Labour Government has set out (via Chancellor Rachel Reeves' speech of 8 July) a broad list of planning reform measures that it intends to implement as part of its wider economic growth agenda.  This includes green belt reviews and the release of what the Government is referring to as "grey belt" land (more of which below) in order to realise new mandatory house building targets. A revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is promised within the Government's first month in office.

The fact that green belt reform is in the Government's sights should be no surprise given that the approach to the green belt was a clear dividing line between Labour and the Conservatives during the UK General Election, as reflected in their respective manifestos.   Whilst the Conservatives promised to retain their "our cast-iron commitment to protect the Green Belt", Labour pledged to "take a more strategic approach to greenbelt land designation and release to build more homes in the right places".

There are a number of ways that the new Government could achieve its objectives.  These each have different implications for the future shape and role of the green belt, and the big question is what the implementation of this manifesto pledge will look like in practice?  There are also a number of additional matters that we consider the Government ought to be thinking about if it wants to meaningfully achieve its ambitions, which we set out at the end of this article.

Current green belt policy
The Government's proposals for the green belt
Additional matters for consideration

Next steps

If you would like to know more about the matters covered in this briefing or otherwise require any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the Planning & Infrastructure Consenting Team.

To the Point 

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