Green Belt

The Green Belt covers an estimated 12.5% of the country (over 1.6 million hectares). Some Local Planning Authorities (like Epping Forest, South Staffordshire, South Bucks, Purbeck, Tandridge, Rochford, Brentwood, Three Rivers, Windsor & Maidenhead & Chiltern in the South and West Lancashire, Chorley, Rotherham, Barnsley, South Ribble, Warrington, Chester & Cheshire West and Cheshire East etc in the North having as high as 99.4% of their area designated as Green Belt).

What is Green Belt?

Green belt (paraphrase from NPPF) is a special designation of land which is preserved for its own sake and as such can be incredibly difficult to obtain planning permission for.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that “The Government attaches great importance to Green Belts. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence.”

The Green Belt serves five purposes:

  1. to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  2. to prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;
  3. to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  4. to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
  5. to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.


As well as working on a range of developments within the Green Belt a core element of our experience is submitting planning applications and obtaining valuable planning permission for replacement dwellings and house extensions. Please see our dedicated case-studies pages for further information.

The Green Belt continues to be a hotly debated topic at local and national Government level with discussions about reducing the extent of the Green Belt or allowing more homes to be built.

At plande, we continue to keep abreast of these ongoing issues and work with relevant stakeholders to influence how the Green Belt should evolve and remain fit for purpose.

Green Belt Land Planning Permission for Developments

What Development is allowed in the Green Belt?

The NPPF states that the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in the Green Belt and that “Inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances.”

There are several exceptions including:

  • For agriculture and forestry
  • Provision of appropriate facilities (which would normally be seen to be suitable for rural/ countryside locations)
  • The extension or alterations of buildings (including house extensions)
  • Replacement of buildings (including dwellings)
  • Limited infilling in villages
  • Limited affordable housing
  • Limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed
  • Certain other works including re-use of buildings; material changes of land use

(the above are a simplistic summary of the exceptions and policies; please contact us with regards to your specific project).

A core element of work we undertake in the Green Belt are as follows:

Green Belt Replacement Dwellings

Green Belt Replacement Dwellings

We have been involved with a range of Green Belt Replacement dwellings achieving high-quality homes which are substantially larger than local planning policies would allow as well as being contrary to the “materially larger” restriction, including obtaining permission for a replacement home that is 300% of the existing dwelling.

For more information on specific projects please see our dedicated page.

Green Belt House Extensions

Green Belt House Extensions

Plande has obtained numerous planning approvals for a range of Green Belt house extensions achieving high-quality designs which are substantially larger than local planning policies would allow as well as being a disproportionate addition, including designs which are 300% larger than the “original” dwelling. 

For more information on specific projects please see our dedicated page.

Paragraph 79 (Para 55) Homes

Paragraph 79 (Para 55) Homes

The NPPF also has a further exemption if there are “special circumstances” although doesn’t define what those would in order for planning permission to be granted in the Green Belt.

A further section of the NPPF (Paragraph 79) previously Paragraph 55 allows homes in open countryside where such homes wouldn’t normally be allowed. While these paragraphs do not definitively take precedence over each other, it could be possible to justify that a high-quality self-build home that is of exceptional quality or innovative in nature could be classed as a special circumstance.

For more information on specific projects please see our dedicated page.

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This page provides an introduction only and is not a definitive statement of the law and should therefore not be relied upon.
The information above relates to England only. Policies across the rest of the UK may differ.
Contact your Local Planning Authority for advice and confirmation before any works are carried out.