The RTPI has analysed the location of 220,000 homes given planning permission between 2012 and 2017 in 12 fast-growing cities and towns: Cambridge, Brighton, Oxford, Bournemouth, Bristol, Plymouth, Coventry, Nottingham, Newcastle, Blackburn, Warrington and Leeds.
The analysis, which focused on developments of at least 50 homes, found that 52 per cent were more than 2km from railway stations. Only a fifth were within 800 metres, or ten minutes’ walk, of a station. In Oxford only two per cent were within 800 metres of a station.
In order to maximise the sustainable housing development the Government should consider relaxing greenbelt restrictions (within agreed limits) to facilitate development around stations). The Housing White Paper did point at polices to facilitate increased density around exiting transport infrastructure, but should go further.
As Siobhain McDonagh MP states, not all of the greenbelt is green or of landscape value. Its protection also sometimes makes housing development in other locations more car-dependent.
Development on land in the vicinity of stations will reduce congestion and be more sustainable in all senses of the word in the long run, particularly in the South East.
The revised NPPF should include planning policy carrots and sticks to deliver housing development in these locations.
Siobhain McDonagh, the Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, is calling for greenbelt rules to be relaxed to allow building on these sites. “In the hearts of our towns and cities and close to public transport, scrubland, rubbish tips and car washes are inappropriately designated as greenbelt land. It’s time to burst the myth that all green belt is green and use it for the homes our children so desperately need,” she said.