The National Planning Policy Framework sets out strong protections for the Green Belt, and makes clear that a local authority may alter the shape of its Green Belt only in exceptional circumstances, using the Local Plan process. The Framework does not define these ‘exceptional circumstances’. However, in the Housing White Paper, Fixing our broken housing market, we proposed that a local authority should be able to alter a Green Belt boundary when it demonstrates that it has examined all other reasonable options for meeting its identified development needs, including:
- effective use of suitable brownfield and estate regeneration;
- the potential offered by under-used land (including surplus public sector land);
- optimising the density of development; and
- exploring whether other authorities can help to meet some of the identified development requirement.
We have been analysing the consultation responses on this proposed clarification, and will announce our conclusions in due course.