Can the Green Belt Survive Economic Growth and Need for Jobs?

Protection of the Green Belt can often clash with the need to foster economic growth and high employment. In one High Court case which illustrated the point, a company which employs 40,000 people in the UK had its hopes of building an office block in the countryside put back on track.

The company wished to build the block on an existing car park in the grounds of its prestigious Grade II* listed headquarters in the West Midlands Green Belt. In refusing consent, a planning inspector found that the development would cause substantial harm to the openness and character of the protected area and that there were no very special circumstances which could justify a grant of permission.

In quashing that decision and directing reconsideration of the company’s application, the Court found that the inspector had misconstrued a local planning policy which provided that reasonable expansion of established businesses into the Green Belt would be permitted where such development would make a significant contribution to the local economy or employment.