Homes on the right tracks

Greening the Green Belt to solve the housing crisis

Releasing green belt around existing commuter stations could solve the UK housing crisis.

Report published on 22 September 2019 by Paul Cheshire and Boyana Buyuklieva

The housing crisis is arguably the biggest challenge facing economically successful cities.

It has grown for decades and is now corroding social and inter-generational cohesion, increasing regional inequality, and hampering the economic growth of many of our largest cities as workers are forced out by a lack of homes.

Official estimates suggest that we need to build at least 300,000 new homes each year to keep up with the soaring demand. But, despite recent increases in the number of homes built, policy makers have so far been unable to develop a comprehensive plan that delivers homes at the scale this country needs.

This report, authored by academics from the LSE and UCL and published by Centre for Cities sets out detailed plans to release green belt around more than one thousand existing commuter rail stations and build more than two million new homes with fast connections into many of Britain’s largest cities.

In brief it calls for:

  1. Releasing for development almost all Green Belt or agricultural land within 800 metres of any stations which have a service of 45 minutes or less to a major city.
  2. Introducing a Land Development Charge set at 20 per cent of the market value of all new development when sold. All proceeds of the charge should be used exclusively for infrastructure and social housing.
  3. Giving  the newly-created ‘development rights’ to the land around stations to the companies — such as National Rail, Transport for London or Transport for Greater Manchester. They could then invest the money made in transport improvements.
  4. Setting up a Green Development Corporation (GDC) — specially designed Urban Development Corporations — for each city region.

This report is published as part of an occasional series by guest experts to provide a platform for new ideas in urban policy. While they do not always reflect our views, we consider them an important contribution to the debate.  

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