grey belt

The Labour party has announced its plans to create more housing by proposing to build on the Grey Belt, a new term for neglected parts of the Green Belt.

Shadow leader Keir Starmer shared the party’s vision in a new housing plan,¬†Get Britain Building Again, which sets out proposals for the reform of the planning system. With a large emphasis on creating affordable homes, Labour wants 1.5 million new homes to emerge nationally, with the Grey Belt playing a key role in providing the much needed land.

The housing plan is part of Labour’s strategy to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7, under its five point plan for growth, which includes:

  • putting economic stability first,
  • getting Britain building again,
  • backing British business,
  • kickstarting a skills revolution, and
  • making work pay.

What is Grey Belt?

Labour maintains that the Green Belt is made up of genuinely nature-rich areas but also contains areas that are poor quality, such as low-value land, car parks and wasteland. The new category of Grey Belt would represent these areas, which have the potential to feed into the need for land near urban centres for building.

While it proposes the building on some of these sites, this would be offset by improving and protecting genuine areas of nature within the Green Belt, ensuring these rich environments are retained for future generations. Such areas would have strong conditions attached to them to prevent them from being released for building.

As part of its plans, Labour has also set out Golden Rules for good development:

  1. Brownfield should be considered first for building.
  2. Grey belt is the second option.
  3. Affordable homes must be a factor, with an expectation that such sites provide 50% affordable.
  4. Development must boost public services and infrastructure.
  5. Genuine green space being protected.

Industry feedback has welcomed the proposals, especially if it promotes smaller sites, but has a shared voice that the devil will, as always, be in the actual details.

Words/image: Duncan Hayes

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