The policy has the potential to unlock land to build hundreds of thousands of new homes, says Knight Frank

Labour will today set out five golden rules to free up poor-quality parts of the green belt in a bid to boost housebuilding and increase affordable housing supply. 

Keir Starmer

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Keir Starmer reiterates Labour’s brownfield first policy but says that the homes that Britain needs can only be built by also releasing ‘grey belt’ land

Labour will retain its brownfield first policy, while creating a new class of ‘grey belt’ land to ensure “poor quality and ugly areas” of the green belt can be built on.

In addition, Labour has said that plans must target at least 50% affordable housing delivery on grey belt land that is released.

The real estate consultancy Knight Frank has identified 11,000 grey belt sites in England and has estimated that they could be used to deliver approximately 100,000 new family homes, potentially rising to over 200,000.

Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner will make Labour’s grey belt policy announcement this morning during a visit to a housing development.

In the announcement, they will rule out building on “genuine nature spots” and highlight that plans must include improvements to existing green spaces.

They will also emphasise that plans must boost public services and local infrastructure, like more school and nursery places, new health centres and GP appointments.

Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, said: “Labour supports brownfield first policies. But we must be honest we cannot build the homes Britain needs without also releasing some land currently classed as green belt.”

Starmer added: “We will get tough on the blockers to back hard-working aspirational Brits, deliver the homes and local services that communities deserve, all while protecting access to genuine green space.”

Deputy leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner, said: “Much of the green belt isn’t green rolling hills, but poor-quality scrub land, mothballed on the outskirts of towns.”

Rayner emphasised that Labour will distinguish green spaces from ‘grey belt’ that is “ripe for housebuilding”. She added: ”When we build on the grey belt, our promise is that more houses means more schools, doctors and green spaces families can use.”

The party previously pledged to build 1.5 million new homes over the next parliament and has said it will deliver “a blitz of planning reform” to help achieve this.

The planning reforms would involve working with local authorities to quickly draw up local plans that have stalled and recruiting hundreds of extra planners in a ‘sprint’ to agree new plans.

Labour has also said it will strengthen requirements to approve new homes in areas that do not have up-to-date plans and will intervene to approve new homes in poorly performing areas, including using call-in powers.

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On Labour’s ‘grey belt’ announcement, Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation said: “Building on brownfield land alone will not deliver enough homes to solve this crisis, so it’s right to consider how our approach to the green belt can better serve our country and our communities.

“We know that some green belt land can be of low quality and limited value and made up of things like former car parks or petrol stations. We strongly support plans to use this “grey belt” to tackle the housing crisis, and to deliver a minimum of 50% affordable homes. Building homes that are affordable for local people is not only the right thing to do, it also increases support for development locally. This should form part of a strategic and properly funded long-term plan for housing.”

Gavin Smart, chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “Labour’s proposal to identify “grey belt” land for development fits well with CIH’s call for a national review of green belt land to identify areas of low environmental value which should be considered for development, while still prioritising brownfield sites”.

He added that “a focus on 50% of new development on these sites being affordable housing is exactly the right approach and could represent an important contribution to a long-term plan to tackle our national housing crisis”.