National CPRE's latest Green Belt report of February 2021 is Countryside next door: State of the Green Belt 2021. It continues to report that the current and future threat of housing development faced by Green Belt land continues to be unprecedented.
A previous annual Green Belt report (see right) also said that Green Belt remains under severe pressure in England, despite government commitments to its protection."Nationally, 460,000 houses are being planned for land that will be released from the Green Belt, while the percentage of ‘affordable’ homes built continues to fall".
Boris Johnson, at the Conservative Party conference in October 2021, vowed to target brownfield land first but, as always, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
West Midlands Green Belt
West Midlands Land Area: 231,291 hectares (14% of total green belt land and 1.7% of the total land area of England). Here is a link to the West Midlands Green Belt factsheet produced by CPRE National Office.
Map showing the West Midlands Green Belt
(from Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap and DCLG).
What is the "Green Belt"?
Modern Green Belts were established in 1955 to prevent urban sprawl and to stop towns and cities from joining up.
Green Belt land is supposed to be permanently protected through strict regulation "unless there are exceptional circumstances". However, building on Green Belt does still go ahead. There are constant threats all over the country to Green Belts, including current threats in Shropshire.
About 10% of Shropshire is in the West Midlands Green Belt (see map above); this is one of 14 separate areas of Green Belt covering 13% of England (6,000+ miles2); mostly open land and countryside around the largest/most historic towns and cities.
Shropshire’s Green Belt includes all the county south of the A5 and east of Telford, Bridgnorth and Highley.
Threats to the Shropshire Green Belt
Green Belt Reviews and Assessments were undertaken as part of the Local Plan Review, the sole purpose of which was to justify releasing for development land that is currently protected by Green Belt status. Green Belt land is meant to be released only in 'exceptional circumstances' but Shropshire Council thinks such exceptional circumstances are simply the pressure for development, particularly along the M54 corridor. They plan to release chunks of land, particularly around Shifnal and Bridgnorth.
Another recent incursion into the Green Belt is in the far south-east corner of the county, at Shipley. Seisdon Quarry, some two miles across the border in Staffordshire, is about to close and the operator wants to open up a new quarry at Shipley, hard up against ancient woodland. The NPPF is meant to restrict development in the Green Belt, and around Ancient Woodlands. Shropshire currently doesn't need the proposed sand and gravel (it has enough reserves elsewhere). However, the planning application 17/05303/MAW was permitted in May 2019.