The National Planning Policy Framework sets out the Government's planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. Development means growth. We must accommodate the new ways by which we will earn our living in a competitive world. We must house a rising population, which is living longer and wants to make new choices. Before the Coalition Government came into office in 2010, the UK had the lowest levels of
housebuilding since the 1920s. By contrast, since 2010, over 700,000 homes have been built. Priority is now being given to the development of brownfield sites and the latest statistics show that the level of Green Belt development is at its lowest rate since modern records began in 1989.
I strongly agree that our fields, woodlands and countryside should be protected against excessive development and the Government attaches great importance to Green Belts. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open. Once Green Belts have been defined, local planning authorities should plan positively to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt, such as looking for opportunities to provide access; to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or to improve damaged and derelict land. The general extent of Green Belts across the country is already established. Local planning authorities with Green Belts in their area should establish Green Belt boundaries in their Local Plans which set the framework for Green Belt and settlement policy.
The aim should always be to minimise pollution and other adverse effects on the local and natural environment and this has been set out clearly in the National Planning Policy Framework.