Metropolitan Green Belt

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
The Metropolitan Green Belt among other green belts of England.

The Metropolitan Green Belt is a statutory green belt around London, England. It includes designated parts of Greater London and the surrounding counties of Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey in the South East and East of England regions.[1]


The term emerged from continental Europe where buffer zones and broad boulevards were increasingly used to separate new development from the centre of historic towns; most notably the Ringstraße in Vienna. Various proposals were put forward from 1890 onwards but the first to garner widespread support was put forward by the London Society in its "Development Plan of Greater London" 1919. Alongside the CPRE they lobbied for a continuous belt (of up to two miles wide) to prevent urban sprawl, beyond which new development could occur.

Implementation of the notion dated from Herbert Morrison's 1934 leadership of the London County Council. It was first formally proposed by the Greater London Regional Planning Committee in 1935, "to provide a reserve supply of public open spaces and of recreational areas and to establish a green belt or girdle of open space". It was again included in an advisory Greater London Plan prepared by Patrick Abercrombie in 1944 (which sought a belt of up to six miles wide). However, it was some 14 years before the elected local authorities responsible for the area around London had all defined the area on scaled maps with some precision (encouraged by Duncan Sandys to designate a belt of some 7–10 miles wide).

New provisions for compensation in the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 allowed local authorities around the country to incorporate green belt proposals in their first development plans. The codification of Green Belt policy and its extension to areas other than London came with the historic Circular 42/55 inviting local planning authorities to consider the establishment of Green Belts. This decision was made in tandem with the 1946 New Towns Act, which sought to depopulate urban centres in the South East of England and accommodate people in new settlements elsewhere. Green belt could therefore be designated by local authorities without worry that it would come into conflict with pressure from population growth.

As the outward growth of London was seen to be firmly repressed, residents owning properties further from the built-up area also campaigned for this policy of urban restraint, partly to safeguard their own investments but often invoking an idealised scenic/rustic argument which laid the blame for most social ills upon urban influences. In mid-1971, for example, the government decided to extend the Metropolitan Green Belt northwards to include almost all of Hertfordshire. The Metropolitan Green Belt now covers parts of 68 different Districts or Boroughs.

Since 1955 London's green belt has extended significantly, stretching some 35 miles out in places. London's green belt now covers an area of 516,000 hectares, an area broadly three times larger than that of London itself. With London's population set to increase by 2,000,000 over the period 2015-2030 it is therefore under increasing pressure for limited land release. The London Society began debate about the city's green belt in 2014 with publication of a report entitled "Green Sprawl".[2][3][4][5][6] Other organisations, including the Planning Officers Society,[7] have since responded with specific calls for a review and proposals to balance land release with environmental protection.[8][9][10]

Designated area

The table lists the areas designated as the Metropolitan Green Belt in 2014. Between 2009 and 2014 there was a reduction of 435 hectares. In 2009, 19 of the 32 London boroughs had green belt land, however by 2014 Greenwich was recorded with zero green belt land.[11] At least some part of every district in Surrey and Hertfordshire is included.

District (planning authority) Region of England Ceremonial county Area (hectares)
Aylesbury Vale South East Buckinghamshire 4,800
Barking and Dagenham London Greater London 530
Barnet London Greater London 2,380
Basildon East Essex 6,950
Bexley London Greater London 1,120
Bracknell Forest South East Berkshire 3,840
Brentwood East Essex 13,700
Bromley London Greater London 7,730
Broxbourne East Hertfordshire 3,310
Castle Point East Essex 2,750
Central Bedfordshire East Bedfordshire 28,220
Chelmsford East Essex 12,850
Chiltern South East Buckinghamshire 17,380
Croydon London Greater London 2,310
Dacorum East Hertfordshire 10,690
Dartford South East Kent 4,110
Ealing London Greater London 310
East Hertfordshire East Hertfordshire 17,530
Elmbridge South East Surrey 5,620
Enfield London Greater London 3,060
Epping Forest East Essex 31,680
Epsom and Ewell South East Surrey 1,560
Gravesham South East Kent 7,670
Guildford South East Surrey 24,040
Haringey London Greater London 60
Harlow East Essex 640
Harrow London Greater London 1,090
Havering London Greater London 6,010
Hertsmere East Hertfordshire 8,040
Hillingdon London Greater London 4,970
Hounslow London Greater London 1,230
Kingston upon Thames London Greater London 640
Luton East Bedfordshire 140
Maidstone South East Kent 530
Medway South East Kent 1,340
Mid Sussex South East West Sussex 20
Mole Valley South East Surrey 19,640
Newham London Greater London 80
North Hertfordshire East Hertfordshire 14,250
Redbridge London Greater London 2,070
Reigate and Banstead South East Surrey 8,890
Richmond upon Thames London Greater London 140
Rochford East Essex 12,570
Runnymede South East Surrey 6,140
Sevenoaks South East Kent 34,400
Slough South East Berkshire 860
South Bucks South East Buckinghamshire 12,350
Southend-on-Sea East Essex 610
Spelthorne South East Surrey 3,320
St Albans East Hertfordshire 13,140
Stevenage East Hertfordshire 260
Surrey Heath South East Surrey 4,190
Sutton London Greater London 620
Tandridge South East Surrey 23,300
Three Rivers East Hertfordshire 6,840
Thurrock East Essex 11,920
Tonbridge and Malling South East Kent 17,060
Tunbridge Wells South East Kent 7,130
Uttlesford East Essex 3,810
Waltham Forest London Greater London 840
Watford East Hertfordshire 410
Waverley South East Surrey 21,080
Welwyn Hatfield East Hertfordshire 10,250
Windsor and Maidenhead South East Berkshire 16,480
Woking South East Surrey 4,030
Wokingham South East Berkshire 2,900
Wycombe South East Buckinghamshire 15,630
TOTAL 514,060


  1. "Area of Designated Green Belt Land".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Manns, J., "Green Sprawl: Our Current Affection for a Preservation Myth?", London Society, London, 2014
  3. Jonathan Prynn, "London's green belt isn't sacrosanct...we need to build homes on it", Evening Standard, 09 December 2014 [1]
  4. Peter Murray, Is London's Green Belt Overprotected?, On Office Magazine,
  5. Paul Cheshire, Are They Green *Belts% by Accident?, LSE Spatial Economics Research Centre Blog,
  6. Homes for Britain, Why We Need Reform of the Green Belt in London and the South East,
  7. Planning Officers Society, Planning For a Better Future: Our Manifesto for the Next Government, Aylesbury, March 2015 [2]
  8. "The Green Belt: A Place for Londoners?", London First, London, 2015
  9. "Delivering Change: Building Homes Where we Need Them", Centre for Cities, London, 2015
  10. AECOM, Big Bold Global Connected London 2065,
  11. Annex 1: area of designated green belt land by local planning authority as at 31 March 2014,uk, Accessed 09 June 2015