Socialist Worker

The real scandal behind building on green belt

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2616

Build on the green belt?

Build on the green belt? (Pic: Shaun Ferguson/Creative Commons)

The majority of houses built on the green belt last year were unaffordable.

That’s according to the latest analysis by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). The research has shown that last year 72 percent of homes built on greenfield land within the green belt failed to meet even the Tories’ phony definition of “affordable”.

This narrow definition of “affordable” includes so-called starter homes sold at the “low” price of up to £450,000.

The government is set to release enough green belt land to build 460,000 homes. The proportion of these set to fail the Tory definition of “affordable” housing is 78 percent.

The CPRE have said they are concerned about the lack of “affordable” housing. Its real objection is the fact the green belt is built on at all.

But the real scandal is that developers snap up the sought-after land and build homes for the rich.

Meanwhile, councils are prevented from raising funds to build new council housing by borrowing against the value of their housing stock.

There are enough bedrooms in Britain to make sure everyone has a safe, secure place to sleep, but the rich have multiple homes. In a planned economy such inequality would be a thing of the past and the houses of the rich would be taken over.

In the meantime, a massive campaign of council house building is needed. As part of that every option must be considered, including building on the green belt. 

Activists demand council homes on old prison site

A new petition has been launched demanding that the site of Holloway prison in Islington be turned over to the local authority to build council housing.

The north London borough has a council house waiting list of 18,000.

The site is owned by the Ministry of Justice.

London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan has called for “affordable” housing to be built on the site. But that includes housing with rents of up to 80 percent of market rates.

The petition says, “Building council housing is the only guaranteed means of meeting this need.”

It demands that “any redevelopment at the site must be for people in housing need—not luxury private apartments.”

To sign the petition, go to

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