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Population forecast pushes Green Belt into the equation

Peter Randall
Peter Randall

PREDICTED rises in the UK population over the next quarter of century mean greenfield land will have to be built on to cope with increased housing demand, according to Kent property experts RPC Land and New Homes.

The Office for National Statistics said that by 2031, the UK population is expected to have risen from its current level of 60 million to 71 million owing to longer life expectancy and increased levels of immigration.

If these projections are accurate, further strain will be put on the housing market as levels needed to meet demand are not being achieved.

Government Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said that three million new homes needed to be built by 2020 and promised to deliver more than 70,000 affordable properties a year by 2011, in an £8bn drive.

Land suitable for redevelopment across the South East is at a premium with developers battling fiercely to buy any sites that come on to the market, particularly with planning consent.

With a finite supply of brownfield sites, pressure is mounting for the Government to relax rules limiting development on greenfield sites.

RPC managing director Peter Randall said: "These population statistics add further weight to our argument that greenfield land will have to be provided to meet the housing needs which are set to grow over the next 25 years."

Sensible release of Green Belt land, coupled with a speeding up of the planning process, would help deliver the numbers of houses required.

A dwindling number of available sites and a "laborious, archaic planning system" meant developers were being ham-strung in their efforts at present.

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