The London Society’s attempt to break the green belt taboo should be welcomed by the millions of Londoners who struggle with high house prices, high rents and tiny homes.
It is a flawed idea to define the ‘ideal’ size for a city and then stop any growth beyond an artificial boundary. Had a green belt policy been introduced in an earlier age, London may never have grown much beyond the Circle Line. Some at the time may have thought that London had reached its ‘correct’ size, but they would never have seen the wealth and opportunities brought by the London we know today - built upon once green fields.
The green belt chokes off supply of land for homes where demand is greatest, so prices rise to compensate. This is why the cost of renting and buying in London has relentlessly risen over many decades. Living standards are going into reverse as many in London try to stay afloat by living in smaller homes, flatshares or even illegal structures.
It can’t be right to cram the few new homes that do get built on to brownfield land that may be contaminated or bordering noisy industry or roads. What does this say about our society and its willingness to do the best for the next generation? The Green Belt covers three times more land than Greater London; just a tiny fraction needs to be strategically developed to satisfy the housing needs of a generation. Priced out Londoners will never forgive the politicians who fail to provide us with that most basic of needs - a decent home at a price we can afford.