Reform the Green Belt to build more homes, urges RIBA

‘End cheapo schools, reform the Green Belt and liberate underperforming English cities’. These are just some of the recommendations set out in a new report from The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

RIBA’s report, Building Better Britain: A vision for the next Government, calls for the next UK Government to implement a number of recommendations in a bid to help empower UK towns and cities.

The report suggests there is urgent need to assess real value of the greenbelt to allow communities to unlock housing and growth potential on wasted land.

Planning is also highlighted as part of the report, with suggestions the government ‘needs to put an end to the risk adverse, NIMBY-fearing tick-box planning system that is failing communities across the UK.’

“The UK needs to be building 300,000 new homes a year for the foreseeable future to accommodate the shortfall in homes built over decades,” the report states.

“Solving the housing crisis will require building a mixture of housing on brownfield land in our cities, towns and villages – and it might require building on some parts of the green belt that have a low or negligible environmental and amenity value.”

RIBA is calling for a Government led review, using methods to assess the environmental and local amenity value of the green belt, which should be used to help compile an evidence base to support Local Authorities in making decisions about their green belt.

By building on the unloved parts of the green belt, local authorities could, with the right approach and encouragement from Government, develop areas of low value green belt as a mechanism to unlock difficult brownfield sites, says RIBA.

The report also highlights how extra income generated by selling former green belt land could be used to develop on brownfield areas what have previously been too expensive to develop.

Alongside green belt and planning reforms, the report also calls for a 20% spending boost to the government’s schools building programme to boost the number of school places, and to help bring schools up to date – with the report stating that many are ‘past their life cycle and riddled with asbestos’.

Health is also high on RIBA’s agenda, with suggestions that the government should commit to spending 10% of transport budgets on ‘active travel’ e.g. linear park and protected routes for walking and cycling

RIBA president Stephen Hodder said: “The next UK Government should empower our cities, towns and villages to prosper and provide the homes, education, services and jobs that are vital for the nation.

“The next Government needs to look at architecture and the built environment as part of the solution. Reform of the green belt, building more new homes, talking the failed current school building programme and empowering English cities to compete on the global stage need to be priorities.”

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