What Are the Rules Regarding Building on Green Belt Land? Development Finance | Property Development 24th May 2016 | By Luke Egan Often the best business investment opportunities are right under your nose, yet are somewhere no one else has dared to look. A prime example of such an opportunity is building on green belt land. Could this be a business investment opportunity that many are missing out on? What is Classed as Green Belt Land? The green belt is the name given to describe the UK government policy for controlling urban growth. This legislation prevents any building work in the countryside, in order to maintain the land for agriculture or outdoor leisure purposes. In the last half a century, the green belt has been blamed by many for the reducing amount of available building plots, as well as pushing up the cost of new build property. Current major green belt areas centre on the outer-fringes of major cities, such as London, Birmingham, Newcastle and Manchester. Regulations for Building on Green Belt Land Building of any kind is generally banned, unless it is for exceptional circumstances. Local Planning Authorities may authorise building work if it is for: • Agricultural buildings • Outdoor sport or recreation facilities • The proportionate extension or alteration of a current structure • The replacement of a current building for the same use • Providing much-needed affordable housing The government is currently analysing the feedback from a national planning policy consultation which proposes changes to green belt legislation which would allow the construction of low cost homes for first time buyers. Growing Number of Building Projects on Green Belt Land According to reports released in June 2015, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of new homes being built on green belt land since 2010. In 2014/2015, planning permission was granted for 11,977 homes to be built on this restricted land – a figure that is five times the 2,258 granted in 2009/2010. The government claims these permissions are subject to local planning authorities, but many believe that ‘exceptional circumstances’ and the pressure to keep up with national targets for the number of new build properties being built each year have caused them to become more lenient. Councils are encouraged to prioritise development on brown field sites (land previously used for industrial use) and the government is creating a new register of available development sites to aid this. However, many councils are altering the historic green belt boundaries in order to create more housing. And this is where the business investment opportunities appear for anyone looking to put their money into property. In March 2016, there were plans for 265,000 dwellings to be built on green belt land. You can see a map of where these will be here. To learn more about opportunities for building on green belt land, contact your local authority planning office; if you require finance for land that you hope to build on, we can help – call us on 02920 766565.