Persimmon calls for housing development on Green Belt land

Out-Law News | 21 Aug 2014 | 5:11 pm | 1 min. read

Housebuilder Persimmon has called for Green Belt land to be opened up for housing development, where building on previously developed land is not financially viable.

In an interview on the BBC's Today programme, Persimmon chief executive Jeff Fairburn said: "There are a number of cities around the country that are very constrained. As a company we'll build on Green Belt sites or brownfield sites – they've just got to be viable. If no other location is viable you need to be able to build on the Green Belt."

The comments come after housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis said earlier this month that the UK government remained committed to the protection of Green Belt land from development. "There is enough brownfield land to deliver up to 200,000 new homes and councils should be using their powers and the support that's available from the government to prioritise development on these sites and defend our valuable countryside against urban sprawl," Lewis said.

Lewis said that the coalition government had "fortified the Green Belt" through the sale of centrally-owned brownfield sites for redevelopment and changes to planning policy. With limited exceptions, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), introduced by the government in 2012, considers the construction of new buildings in the Green Belt to be "inappropriate development" which local authorities should not approve unless the resulting harm is "clearly outweighed by other considerations".

Earlier this year, housebuilders' and real estate investors' trade bodies the Home Builders Federation (HBF)and the British Property Federation (BPF) warned the government against a return to "brownfield first" policies and called for restrictions on Green Belt development to be re-examined.

An HBF statement to the government's inquiry into the operation of the NPPF in June warned that "brownfield first" policies could lead to a "drop in the supply of housing land and a subsequent worsening of the housing crisis in this country". Speaking at an evidence session for the same inquiry, former BPF chief executive Liz Peace said that members of her body "would like to see a more serious and sensible examination of whether we've got the right Green Belt and whether in fact we couldn't sensibly use some of it form meeting some of this housing need."