Yesterday, I attended a seminar hosted by the London Assembly Planning Committee at City Hall about the future of the green belt. There was a diverse range of speakers which prompted a great discussion around the role and definition of the green belt. Comparisons were drawn to cities with similar boundaries – Toronto, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Melbourne and Shanghai.
Some key questions were ‘What does the green belt mean and do for a city and how should we define it?’ and ‘What are the best ways of enhancing our green belt and making it work harder to create a rich ecological asset for London and surrounding settlements?’. The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, will be reviewing the London Plan and this is the time to start thinking long term about the future of London’s green belt. Many of London’s outer Local Authorities are already feeling the pressures of extensive development.
The question thus remains, ‘What does protecting the green belt mean?’ – leave it as it is, allowing ad hoc developments to eat into our green fringe OR think strategically and guide future development so we can enhance and protect it?