Green Belt is a designation for land around certain towns, cities and large built-up areas, which aims to keep the land permanently or largely undeveloped. The purposes of Green Belt are to:
- check the unrestricted sprawl of large built up areas;
- prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;
- assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
- preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
- assist urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.
Green Belt is identified in the local authority’s development plan (usually its local plan although some minor boundary changes can be made in neighbourhood plans). The relevant policy guidance on designated green belts can be found in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) NPPF chapter 13 - Protecting Green Belt land. The NPPF is clear that, once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, through the preparation or review of the development plan.
Green Belts are intended to be of a permanent nature, and there is a strong presumption against development which is considered ‘inappropriate’ within them. Generally, development which harms the open character of Green Belt or conflicts with the purposes for including land within it is considered inappropriate.
The construction of new buildings is generally regarded as inappropriate development. However, there are some exceptions which are explained within the NPPF.
In addition, National Planning Practice Guidance provides advice on the factors that can be taken into account when considering the potential impact of development on the openness of the Green Belt. Your local planning authority’s Local Plan and any neighbourhood plan covering your area could provide additional information.