Fringe Box



Letter: Green Belt Status Can Be Restored

Published on: 2 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 2 Jun, 2021

A view across Blackwell Farm. One of the strategic development sites scheduled in the Local Plan.

From: Karen Stevens

Save Hogs Back campaigner

Guildford Liberal Democrats’ pledge of “honesty, realism and transparency throughout the [Local Plan] review process” is to be welcomed. In this same spirit, could Cllr Harwood cite the source of his comment that “The government does not allow councils to put land back into the green belt once it’s been removed?”

I have been advised by both a planning advisor and a barrister that the opposite is in fact the case. In other words, local authorities can allocate and deallocate sites as they see fit, and if the exceptional circumstances for taking land out of the green belt no longer apply, then that land can be returned to the green belt.

In the 1990s, Torridge, in north Devon, allocated some sites for a while, but when they weren’t taken up, deallocated them and allocated some other ones in the next Local Plan. More recently, in 2014, the planning inspector recommended adoption of the Solihull Local Plan, which included the return of some sites to the green belt.

Undoubtedly, the council would face fierce opposition from the owners of previously allocated sites, but none of this matters in law. The council has every right to review and amend a flawed Local Plan. It would be good if GBC would publicly acknowledge that this is the case.

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