Skip to main content

Green Belt Planning

The Green Belt covers an estimated 12.5% of the country (over 1.6 million hectares).

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, Warrington, and Cheshire have as high as 99.4% of their area designated as Green Belt. These areas have a high degree of land set to pasture, parks, forests and open countryside.

What is Green Belt?

Green belt (paraphrase from NPPF) is a special designation of land which is preserved for its own sake. Land is designated 'Green Belt' by local authorities to resist urbanisation. As such it can be incredibly difficult to obtain planning permission to build on these areas.

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 page for further information.

The Green Belt continues to be a hotly debated topic at local and national Government level with discussions about reducing its extent 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 Green Belt development should evolve.


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.”

How Can I Get Planning Permission To Build on Green Belt?

There are several exceptions that may allow you to get planning permission for development on land designated as Green belt: 

  • Removing land from the Green Belt – this may sound obvious but it notoriously difficult to achieve. The NPPF state quite clearly that there needs to be exceptional circumstances for them to do so. It could be that there is an elevated demand for new homes, but councils need to demonstrate that every other avenue has been explored first.That need to prove they have exhausted all possibility of using Brownfield sites, that density in current builds has been optimised and that they have considered the needs of neighbouring councils. The process of obtaining planning on Green belt is time consuming, and highly political with a relatively low chance of success, especially considering the competition that exists between other housebuilders and stakeholders.
  • For agriculture and forestry – If you are planning to rebuild houses for agriculture and forestry workers. Under special circumstances where workers are required to live in a certain place, for animal welfare, for example, buildings can be erected on Green Belt.
  • Limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed – as long as the openness of the Green belt is maintained then brownfield land can be built upon – that is the redevelopment of previously developed land.
  • Provision of appropriate facilities (which would normally be seen to be suitable for rural/ countryside locations) – This could be for paces like cemeteries and outdoor sporting facilities where the openness of the Green Belt is maintained.
  • The extension or alterations of buildings (including house extensions) – this can be acceptable as long as the overall proportions of the building are not exceeded
  • Replacement of buildings (including dwellings) – providing that the new building is of the same size and proportions.
  • Limited infilling in villages – under limitations provided in the Local Plan, strictly limited affordable housing for local communities may be allowed.
  • Certain other works including re-use of buildings; material changes of land use

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


Disclaimer: 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. All images used are for illustrative purposes only. Read the full disclaimer here.

Get in touch

Whether you need an expert on your team to secure permission for a major mixed-use scheme or a unique self-build home, our fresh planning insights will help you achieve your goal.