The typical riposte to claims that much of Green Belt is poor quality land with no public access is that it doesn’t matter. Green Belt is not an environmental designation – there are others for that. Rather it is a policy designation designed to prevent urban sprawl.
Its a great argument. However if the purpose is to prevent sprawl whilst allowing for sufficient housing rather than preventing housing per se then there can be too much of it. The optimum amount of Green Belt is that which maintains housing output whilst preventing sprawl and excessive trips by car. That can mean there is too much of it if there is a shortage of suitable land outside the Green Belt, and if you do release it you do it in the least ‘sprawly’ manner possible.
The problem we now have is that there is no policy stating the appropriate level of Green Belt. With the demise of Strategic Planning the extent of Green Belt nationally is fixed unless an individual LPA is brave enough to challenge it.
The problem for anyone however suggesting their is too much is as Colin Miles says in the Guardian.
Suggest that just a small fraction of green belt land could meet our long-term housing needs and they accuse you of wanting to concrete over the whole of it.
So nmif you defending bthe current extent of Green Belt you need to suggest an alternative policy. Where greater density within the Green Belt can be achieved. If you think there is too much suggest where and what density it should be developed.
Green Belt is a means to an end not an end in itself and a grown up debate is needed on these matters.