Greater Nottingham Strategic Plan Growth Options

Chapter Four Green Belt

Introduction

4.1  The main issues that this chapter seeks to address include: whether the principle of the Nottingham-Derby Green Belt should be maintained; the considerations that should direct development towards Green Belt areas rather than non-Green Belt areas (including safeguarded land); and the improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt areas that could be considered and how these improvements could be achieved.

4.2  Paragraph 133 of the NPPF notes that the Government attaches great importance to Green Belts. It notes that the fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence.

4.3  Paragraph 134 of the NPPF outlines the five purposes of the Green Belt as:

'a) to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;

b) to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;

c) to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;

d) to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and

e) to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land'.

4.4  Paragraphs 136 and 137 of the NPPF stress that Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in 'exceptional circumstances' (see paragraph 4.14) where they are fully evidenced and justified, through the preparation or updating of plans. All other reasonable options for meeting the identified need for development should be examined fully.

4.5  Paragraph 136 of the NPPF states that where a need for changes to Green Belt boundaries has been established through strategic policies, detailed amendments to those boundaries may be made through non-strategic policies, including neighbourhood plans.

4.6  Paragraph 138 of the NPPF notes that the impact of removing land from the Green Belt should be offset through 'compensatory improvements' to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt land.

Background

4.7  The Nottingham-Derby Green Belt encircles Nottingham and surrounds the towns lying between Nottingham and Derby but constrains only the eastern side of Derby. The main function of the Green Belt is to prevent the coalescence of the main built up areas of Nottingham and Derby and the settlements between them.

4.8  The principle of the Nottingham-Derby Green Belt is well established. The Nottingham-Derby Green Belt Review (2006)[1] considered that the area immediately between Nottingham and Derby (in Broxtowe and Erewash Boroughs) and the areas immediately north generally perform most strongly against the purposes of the Green Belt, as set out at paragraph 4.3.

4.9  The Green Belt to the south and east of Nottingham (in Gedling and Rushcliffe Boroughs) serves fewer of the purposes because, while supporting the containment of the urban area, it is not separating major areas of development. The Green Belt has also helped to maintain separation between other settlements within the Greater Nottingham area.

4.10  The 'objectively assessed housing figure' for Greater Nottingham is 59,420 homes between 2018 and 2038, according to the Government's standard methodology[2] (51,580 homes without Erewash Borough). Information regarding the potential supply of sites can be found within the various Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments[3] which cover the Plan area.

4.11  Subject to the outcome of this consultation, it is considered that this figure should be treated as a minimum and should be met in full, within the Councils' areas. This is because the Councils want to support economic and housing growth and to promote sustainable patterns of development and travel.

4.12  Given the tightly drawn Green Belt boundaries around much of Greater Nottingham and the scale of growth that is needed, it is considered that some release of Green Belt land may be necessary. Where this is the case, plans should give first consideration to land which has been previously-developed and/or is well-served by public transport. It will be important to provide compensatory improvements to the remaining areas of Green Belt, where possible.

3. These can be found on the websites of each of the Greater Nottingham local authorities. [back]

Nottingham-Derby Green Belt Statistics

4.13  The table within Figure 4.1 provides key statistics in relation to the Green Belt within each local authority area.

Figure 4.1: Key Green Belt Statistics by Local Authority Area

Authority

Authority Area (ha)

Amount of Green Belt in Authority Area (ha)

Percentage of land designated as Green Belt

Amount of Safeguarded Land (ha)

Amount of land beyond the Green Belt (ha)

Amount of land released from the Green Belt for development since 1990 (ha)

Broxtowe

8,010

5,130

64%

0

0

410

Erewash

10,968

7,851

72%

0

0

0

Gedling

11,998

8,795

73%

140

0

287

Nottingham City

7,461

750

10%

0

0

47

Rushcliffe

40,920

16,239

40%

46

21,794

1,000

Question GB1: Principle of the Nottingham-Derby Green Belt

  • Should the principle of the Nottingham-Derby Green Belt be maintained?

Approach to the Green Belt

4.14  According to the High Court judgement on the 2014 Core Strategies[4] , 'exceptional circumstances' which might justify changes to Green Belt boundaries include:

  • the nature and extent of the harm to the Green Belt; and,
  • the inherent constraints on the supply / availability of land potentially suitable for sustainable development;
  • the acuteness / intensity of the objectively assessed housing need;
  • the consequent difficulties in achieving sustainable development without impinging on the Green Belt;
  • the extent to which the consequent impacts on the Green Belt may be ameliorated or reduced.

4.15  Consideration should therefore be given to the consequences for sustainable development of channelling development towards urban areas inside the Green Belt boundary, towards towns and villages inset within the Green Belt or towards locations beyond the outer Green Belt boundary.

4.16  Even if the development needs of the area can be met without Green Belt release, consideration will still need to be given to whether releasing Green Belt land may produce a more sustainable outcome.

4.17  Strategic policies should establish the need for any changes to Green Belt boundaries, having regard to their intended permanence in the long term, so they can endure beyond the plan period. The NPPF allows local planning authorities to designate 'Safeguarded Land' between the urban area and the Green Belt, to meet longer-term development needs stretching beyond the plan period. At present there is only Safeguarded Land in Gedling and Rushcliffe Boroughs. Paragraph 139 of the NPPF notes that Safeguarded Land is not allocated for development at the present time and its permanent development should only be granted following a review of the Local Plan.

4.18  Within the inner Green Belt boundary, there is no land outside of the urban area or settlements, that is not 'Safeguarded'. All of the land beyond the outer Green Belt boundary is located in Rushcliffe Borough.

4.19  Not all of the land identified as Safeguarded Land will be suitable for development in its entirety and sites will need to be subject to a detailed assessment through the review of the Local Plan to take account of landscape, heritage, flooding and other constraints[5].

4.20  Previously (with the exception of Erewash Borough) the Core Strategies allocated strategic sites (over 450 dwellings) which, where necessary, were removed from the Green Belt upon adoption of the Core Strategies. The Core Strategies also identified 'Strategic Locations for Growth' which were detailed further in the Part 2 Local Plans.

4.21  Any potential release of land from the Green Belt would be subject to a Strategic Green Belt Review as part of the preparation of this Plan. This would be followed by more detailed local boundary reviews in Part 2 Local Plans.

5. In some locations in Gedling Borough, the safeguarded land designation has been used as a planning tool. Certain areas of safeguarded land have been identified separately in the Local Plan to reflect that it is not expected that any part of these sites will be developed for a variety of reasons, but they are not considered appropriate for inclusion in the Green Belt. [back]

Question GB2: Approach to the Green Belt

  • Are there any other considerations that should direct development towards Green Belt areas rather than non-Green Belt areas (including 'Safeguarded Land')?

Compensatory Improvements to Remaining Green Belt Land

4.22  As previously noted, the NPPF states that the impact of removing land from the Green Belt can be offset through compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt land.

4.23  These improvements may be informed by supporting evidence of landscape, biodiversity or recreational needs and opportunities including those set out in local strategies[6].

6. Planning Practice Guidance: Paragraph: 002 Reference ID: 64-002-20190722. [back]

Question GB3: Offsetting Losses to the Green Belt

  • What improvements to environmental quality and accessibility should we consider and how could these be achieved?