The relationship between the green belt, England’s housing crisis and the planning system

Goode, Charles Edward ORCID: 0000-0003-2654-2521 (2022). The relationship between the green belt, England’s housing crisis and the planning system. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

Text - Redacted Version
Available under License All rights reserved.

Download (4MB) | Preview


The Green Belt is probably England’s most popular and longstanding planning policy commanding widespread political support locally and nationally yet it is regularly critiqued as one of the main causes of England’s Housing Crisis by academics, think tanks and housebuilders. More broadly, following Hall’s seminal work The Containment of Urban England (1973), it is often argued that it contributes to wider inequitable outcomes in the planning system, which is disproportionately skewed in favour of campaigners and homeowners. This thesis critically evaluates the extent to which the Green Belt contributes to the housing crisis and whether the policy needs reforming. The broader question of power in planning is addressed through exploring why and how the public and campaigners support the Green Belt and oppose housebuilding generally. It therefore aims to add nuance to, and move forward the often polarised Green Belt debate by focusing principally on the views of planners, which are often under-represented in the Green Belt debate, despite being the main actor in the planning system. The study focuses on the importance of space through a geographically based case study of the West Midlands.

The thesis finds that the housing crisis is a complex, multi-faceted problem consisting of multi-scalar factors although the Green Belt exacerbates the crisis in particular locations, especially on the edge of conurbations. It argues that the policy should not be abolished but modified for the 21st century with a focus on sustainability, especially recreation and environmental improvement, and that there should be national conversation on the policy’s overall spatial extent and purpose, perhaps as part of a national plan. The study also finds that people primarily support the policy because of popular planning principles and place attachment rather than house prices. There is a gap between the attempted exercises of power and effective power of campaigners with significant circumscription and modulation of power in the planning system. Finally, many of the issues associated with the Green Belt and community opposition to development generally are related to the lack of strategic planning in the current system so the thesis underlines the need for integrated, strategic planning to protect the environment and meet housing need.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > J General legislative and executive papers
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
L Education > L Education (General)
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
T Technology > TH Building construction


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year