Government cannot address housing crisis without building on green belt

In response to the Government’s new housing white paper (published today), Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of the think tank Centre for Cities, said:

Press release published on 7 February 2017

“Many of the measures in the Government’s new strategy will help to make the housing market work more effectively, by enabling developers to build homes more quickly, ensuring local authorities have plans in place to tackle housing demand in their areas, and encouraging higher density building in cities.

“Ultimately, however, this is a national strategy which doesn’t consider how different housing markets work across the country. The biggest problem for successful cities like London and Cambridge is that there simply isn’t enough land in these places to build the homes they need, unless policy-makers consider all options available – including building on the green belt.

“People often assume the green belt is made up entirely of idyllic countryside, but a great deal of this land is actually used for car-parks, quarries and golf courses. Continuing to rule out development on the green belt is a luxury the Government cannot afford if it is serious about tackling the housing crisis and ensuring our most successful cities can thrive in future.”


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Key stats from Centre for Cities research on how to address the UK’s housing crisis

  • 1.4m homes could be built on just 5% of greenbelt land in the UK’s 10 least affordable cities
  • More than 430,000 homes could be built at suburban densities and close to train stations on just 2% of London’s greenbelt

About Centre for Cities

Centre for Cities is a research and policy institute, dedicated to improving the economic success of UK cities. We are a charity that works with cities, business and Whitehall to develop and implement policy that supports the performance of urban economies. We do this through impartial research and knowledge exchange. For more information, please visit

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