This is such a horror

The green belt is disappearing at an “alarming rate” with the equivalent of 5,000 football pitches lost because of a relaxation of planning laws, a report warns today.

Developers are being allowed to “gobble up” green belt land as local authorities release it for house building to meet Government targets for new homes, the report says.

The situation is set to get worse, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) with 460,000 homes currently planned for land which will be released from the green belt.

5,000 football fields is usually said to be 10,000 acres.

Green belt is 1.6 million hectares, some 3.8 million acres. A while 0.25% ha been gobbled up.

Tragedy, eh?

As opposed to the idea that people now get to build homes where people would like to live……

36 comments on “This is such a horror

  1. Yes, it is a horror, actually. I don’t want to live in some Bladerunner-esque nightmare, just so that we can accommodate a growing population. Do you?

  2. ^^ What Julia said.

    Too many people, too many cars. Britain has been full since 1970 at least.

  3. One wonders just how green the particular parts of the green belt referred to actually are.
    As to population, either we get on with a program of mass deportation- say 2-3 million, or we build more homes.
    I suspect the former policy would lead to civil war.
    That we need to put the brakes on immigration is another matter.

  4. England is full. There’s lots of room in Caithness & Sutherland, but few new immigrants arrive hoping to become isolated crofters.

  5. But where will we put our golf courses, ponies and scrapyards/caravan storage parks that masquerade as farms? That seems to be what 80% of the green belt near me is used for.

    Personally I think the commons have way more utility and biodiversity, a much more effective way of preserving land than the green desert.

  6. I’m in favour of planning land use and development in this over-crowded island, but green belts are bad and inefficient planning because they unnecessarily restrict housing supply and so force up house prices, and they can lead to unsatisfactory development elsewhere. So adjusting and reducing green belts is generally a good thing.

    As for over-crowding in England, it’s time to begin repatriating immigrants from alien cultures while they still have right of residency in their countries of origin.

  7. It’s funny they always compare the losses in football pitches, rather than tonnes of sugar and cereals.
    Not one single pro football club is an NP, or AONB ( I’ve checked ) and I suspect none in green belts. Yet a heck of a lot of sugar beet and wheat is, but we don’t want to draw attention to that as they are foods non grata at that moment.

  8. The problem isn’t a trend towards Bladerunner, it’s the reverse.

    Britons avoid high density apartments, moving to houses with gardens. Which is far more wasteful of land.

    If Britons lived at Hong Kong or Singapre densities, and neither are remotely dystopian hell-holes, you’d all fit in inner London easily.

    Too many Britons want both a national green belt and their own little garden green belt. It’s an impossible mix.

    Except when they get properly rich, when they move into the highest density areas in the cities. Because modern cities, far from being grotesque dark slums, are actually quite pleasant places to live if you can afford a biggish place.

    It’s not the cities that are horrible, it’s that most people can only afford a pokey place in one, and its the pokiness that is bad. People like living in cities. That’s why they are so big, doh!

  9. To introduce a smidgen of pendantry, Wiki has the preferred size of a professional soccer pitch at 1.76 acres. So 8800 acres or a bit under 14 sq miles. But as, thankfully, there aren’t 5000 professional football clubs in the south-east, you could probably go with considerably smaller Sunday League & school pitches.

  10. Pat–civil war would reduce the population even further.

    An end of importation and bigamy laws imposed on the imports together with an end of the import breeding subsidy would do wonders toward population control.

    Where are all the zero population growth scum who plagued the West in the 1970s? Soylent Green anyone?

  11. I agree with Julia. It’s the obvious conclusion to the Grenfell tragedy, too. Why are we paying Eritrean minicab drivers and other Heinz 57 random lower class people from the Third World to live in unsightly and dangerous high-density accomodation built on some of the most expensive real estate on the planet?

    Humanely round them up and respectfully deport them all, as gently and peacefully as they allow us to be. Some of them will have British passports, to be fair, but I don’t see that as a sacred talisman – especially since New Labour admitted its immigration policies were based on malice. What the State giveth, the State can taketh away. Elizabeth I would surely agree.

    We’ve tried multiculturalism, and it’s not working. So let’s try something better. It’s not as if the EU can stop us.

  12. Chester Draws raises an interesting point. Last few years I’ve been living in cities where they’ve mostly been building at around 8 stories over a ground floor commercial level. The average 3 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment – generally with separate laundry room & external terrace – is bigger than the sort of 3 bed estate houses go up in the south-east. And you can add in an underground parking space & often a community swimming pool & shared garden area. And this is just the bottom end of the housing stock, as occupied by the working class Spanish.
    Building at this density brings enormous advantages. Shopping can be just a case of taking a lift down to street level. Most of the other facilities one uses are within walking distance. You’re rarely more than a couple minutes walk from public transport.
    Simply bulldozing a couple of square miles of jerrybuilt Victorian & Edwardian terraces would transform London.

  13. The size of a football pitch is between 100yds x 50 yds and 130 yds x 100 yds. So “5,000 football pitches” probably means 12.5m sq yds or 2,582 acres.
    You cannot *really* believe that they mean “football grounds” – this is a piece of propaganda so it’s bound to be phrased misleadingly.

  14. Too many Britons want both a national green belt and their own little garden green belt. It’s an impossible mix.

    Really? It seems to have worked mostly fine. In that some have preferred country, some gardens, some the more densely populated brighter lights.

    Instead, if there are problems, it’s the very rapid recent changing of numbers that seems to have caused them? Even earlier EU net movements (western Europe, similar GDP/capita etc) caused little to no upset to the overall balance / equilibrium?

  15. @ChesterDraws: “If Britons lived at Hong Kong or Singapre densities…”

    Why should we, when we aren’t Chinese or Singaporean?

  16. @PF
    But London has hardly any high density housing. The majority of apartments have been cobbled out of 3 & 4 high Victorian/Edwardian terrace houses. And what higher density it has is mostly mid-20th century council blocks with all the problems council planners insisted on incorporating into their designs. Like isolating them half a mile away from any amenities.

  17. BiS

    “The average 3 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment – generally with separate laundry room & external terrace – is bigger than the sort of 3 bed estate houses go up in the south-east. And you can add in an underground parking space & often a community swimming pool & shared garden area. And this is just the bottom end of the housing stock, as occupied by the working class Spanish.”

    That’s not true in my experience. Many Spanish apartments are tiny spaces in decrepit tower blocks around Barcelona, Madrid and Seville – without parking or swimming pools. And the lived density of population in Spain is 737 people per km² – the highest in Europe. Perhaps they manage to survive this level of overcrowding because the climate allows them to spend a lot of time outside. It wouldn’t work well in London’s climate.

  18. bis,
    Simply bulldozing a couple of square miles of jerrybuilt Victorian & Edwardian terraces would transform London.

    I used to live in such a house and I thought to myself that there was simply no conceivable circumstances under which they would ever be demolished. They are worth so much that short of a Martian invasion they will patched up until the end of time.

  19. There is a major omission in the report. Most councils insist on the dwelling occupying 40% of the plot. The balance 60% of the plot is used for servitudes: sewage and water, electricity and cable/phone lines, parking and gardens. So a maximum of 50% is used by dwellings and parking. In the other 50% of a plot, most people establish their gardens, lawns and flower beds. It is my contention that the biodiversity in the gardens, hedges, flower beds, and lawns exceed that of a grass football pitch. Birds, bees, butterflies, and insects thrive in the gardens of English villages. This important aspect is ignored in an anti-human biased report.

  20. BiS

    I’m entirely with you? If people want that, brilliant, the market can provide it easily enough, if knocking down / rebuilding is viable? For example, you only have to look at miles and miles of new development along the Thames in recent times, a lot of it pretty much as you describe (adjusted to UK tastes).

    I was only refuting CD’s “impossible mix” (gardens as well as green belt). Whether or not it’s optimum. it’s certainly not impossible; in the modern timescale, it’s entirely normal and no reason not to continue.

    And more green space around such (usually suburban type) housing is hardly detrimental either. For example, with regard to environment – “hedgerow type activity” can often be a lower in intensely farmed areas than in suburbia.

  21. The libertarians would happily turn the country into a shithole on their armchair principles of open borders and derestricted development. England is mostly still terrific. I don’t want it turned into some other place. If other places are better, go and live in those.

  22. @Theo
    I was talking about what the Spanish are building, now. Not the legacy housing from the middle of last century. All of that’s being pulled down, now. The Spanish don’t share the British affection for slums.
    That said, those mid century apartment blocks are still much better housing than what fetches eye watering prices in London. The only thing against them is they’re lived in by the poor. In London it’s only the wealthy can afford the same.

  23. @PF
    “If people want that, brilliant, the market can provide it easily enough, if knocking down / rebuilding is viable?”
    But the market’s not allowed to provide it. A project I was involved in, few years back. Carving 12 flats out of a couple of buildings in Whitechapel. 3 floors over commercial. A technical tour-de-force requiring stitching the shell back together to repair wartime damage, half the structural timber replace because of rot, all within the parameters of buildings totally unsuited to it. Be cheaper & easier to knock the lot down & get 16 good sized apartments over modern commercial. But you’d never get it through planning. Which is odd. Because 30-40 years ago they were doing exactly that. There’s examples all over the place. But, of course, that area of London’s become Yuppie country..So we’re preserving high priced slums, not providing decent housing that the market would snatch up

  24. The Times’ headline: “Green belt used for homes young people cannot afford.” Article is more-or-less a CPRE press release.

    Misses the whole point. We don’t assume that a typical 17-year-old (if there exists such a thing) should be able to afford a new car. No, some relatively much richer person buys the new car, trading in their old one which ever-so-slightly depresses its value by adjusting the supply/demand balance until somebody moderately well-off can afford it, and they trade in their car, reducing its value but by a bit less than that of the rich person’s former car that they are buying… and so on down the chain until our 17-year-old is able to afford a Fiesta that’s nearly as old as he is.

    The same is true of housing. Building houses is expensive – mostly due to the cost of land and of meeting regulations, both of which are in the gift of the government. The building of expensive green-belt houses where rich people want to live will free up the house that they previously lived in which will in turn free up its purchaser’s former house and so on down the chain until there is a 2.5 bedroom ex-council-house that our young family can move into.

  25. @ matt
    Tower blocks should be used for students and childless couples (excluding the disabled in both cases unless the tower block has three lifts). They don’t need a house, not even an ex-council house until they have children. My late mother-in-law used to let out the top-floor flat to foreign students and look after them (for the last year-and-a-bit the couple who had stayed after graduating, got jobs, and married, did quite a bit of looking after her).
    Living in the Green Belt will usually involve Season Tickets that they cannot afford.

  26. Was your post at 5:09 made with your commisar’s hat on john77. Surely people should be able to live where they bloody well like. As long as they can afford it.

  27. Julia. I didn’t say you should live in high density.

    I said you can’t all have gardens around non-attached houses *and* increase the housing stock without eating into the green belt. If you’re going to insist on low density housing then it comes at a cost. That cost is that it requires lots of land.

    And it’s the natives doing this. As you get richer more people keep wanting bigger houses and gardens.

    (The new immigrants aren’t the ones in the low density suburbs. In the case of pressure on the green belt, they’re really not the main problem.)

  28. @ bis
    I did not say that students and young couples should be forced to live in Tower Blocks – I said that Tower Blocks should be used for students and childless couples. That is actually rather different!
    It is a scandal that tower block flats with unreliable lifts are allocated to people who should be living in bungalows.
    Tower blocks are actually a small proprtion of any given local authority’s housing stock. So it is not beyond the wit of the average rabbit to select tenants on the grounds of suitability, just beyond the wit of housing bureaucrats.

  29. BiS

    You stated unequivocally:

    The average 3 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment – generally with separate laundry room & external terrace – is bigger than the sort of 3 bed estate houses go up in the south-east. And you can add in an underground parking space & often a community swimming pool & shared garden area. And this is just the bottom end of the housing stock, as occupied by the working class Spanish.

    Then you say:

    I was talking about what the Spanish are building, now.

    No, you weren’t: see above!

    Most Spanish people live squalidly compared to most UK residents.

  30. @Theo
    ” Last few years I’ve been living in cities where they’ve mostly been building at around 8 stories over a ground floor commercial level.”
    And that’s what they’ve been building. A friend has just bought one. 135k€ on a 90% mortgage. Back of town, but it’s still CdeS. Land isn’t that cheap here.
    She’s a better apartment than anyone I know in the south-east. The UK just doesn’t build anything like this. My cousin’s doing a flat development in commuter Essex. Supposedly luxury flats. Her’s makes his look like rabbit hutches.
    Yes, some of the early/mid century Spanish apartment blocks are pretty grim. But the average Spaniard was earning a fifth of the average Brit, when those went up. Spain was a poor country. But look at some of the shitty blocks the UK built in the same period. And the Spanish are pulling there’s down. Not preserving them as cultural landmarks.
    It’s something that distinguishes Brits from most other countries. Forriners tend to regard houses as consumer goods. You build them, you use them. When they come to the end of their useful life, you pull them down build something else. Brits think houses should last for eternity. Why FFS? Most of the countries urban cores are 19th century shit thrown up in a hurry by bodgers. I know. I’ve worked with them. The materials& the workmanship were appalling.

  31. does any of this matter? Whatever you do there will be more demand for mor housing. It will be infinite in life . Unending etc.
    The world is full of people that your leaders would like to add to their taxpayer/ voter stockpile.

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