Policy G4: Enhancing the Beneficial Use of the Green Belt
Development proposals within the Green Belt land in Our Neighbourhood which would lead to:
- improved access and connectivity, or:
- opportunities for outdoor sport or recreation, or:
- improved landscape, or:
- improved biodiversity, or:
- enhanced visual amenity, or:
- improvements to damaged and derelict land will be encouraged and supported.
4.86 The NPPF (section 9) attaches great importance to the Green Belt and to its protection from development. Inappropriate development “should not be approved except in very special circumstances” (NPPF, para 87). Local people, as shown by responses to the Forum’s survey (Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum, 2015) and by the existence of community bodies such as ‘The Friends of Durham Green Belt’, do not consider that there are any ‘very special circumstances’ (NPPF, para 88) present in Durham City that would merit development on the Green Belt (except for permitted development allowed by the NPPF (para. 89, 90)). Therefore no policy in our Neighbourhood Plan includes development on the Green Belt, other than for proposals that meet the NPPF exceptions criteria (NPPF para 89). The Green Belt is particularly important to Our Neighbourhood because of one of its purposes “to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns” (NPPF para. 80). A number of saved policies of the City of Durham Local Plan are relevant to the Green Belt (City of Durham Council, 2004; Durham County Council, 2015a: E1,2,2A) and these have been incorporated into this policy.
4.87 However, there is the opportunity to enhance the Green Belt. The NPPF states that: “Once Green Belts have been defined, local planning authorities should plan positively to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt, such as looking for opportunities to provide access; to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or to improve damaged and derelict land.” (NPPF, para 81). The NPPF (para. 89) notes that an exception for new buildings on the Green Belt is “provision of appropriate facilities for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation and for cemeteries, as long as it preserves the openness of the Green Belt and does not conflict with the purposes of including land within it”.
Next section: Theme 3: A City with a diverse and resilient economy