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Extension approved in the London Green Belt.



Certificate of Lawfulness approved for a single-storey rear extension to a detached dwelling on the Metropolitan Green Belt in Hertfordshire.

Following an initial consultation with the applicants En-Plan drafted a Certificate of Lawfulness Application  that was subsequently submitted to and approved by the Local Planning Authority. The Certificate of Lawfulness route was considered the best option as the previous plannig history of the prierty coupe, dwith its positon in the Meytropolitan Gren Belt meant any formal planning application for an extension would be refused.

The plannig history for the site is as follows:



The council have previously refused two planing application for similar proposal before En-Plan were asked to get involved and with our knowledge of the General Permitted Development Order and the ways in which householders can extend their property without the need for full planning permission we were successful in delivering approval under a Certificate of Lawfulness for a bespoke kitchen extension which the applicants are extremely please with considering the previous refusal on the property that have hindered the extension of the existing kitchen.

The approved scheme will allow for a new bespoke kitchen extension thta te onwers were after so gthey could develpo the property prior to selling

Further information on the Metropolitan Green Belt:

London’s Green Belt is integral to the vision of London as a sustainable, green city based on the concept of a strategic network of green spaces. It provides both a buffer and a link between suburban London and the wider countryside, helping to prevent further urban sprawl. It, along with Metropolitan Open Land, also serves to support ecological networks and significant green corridors for wildlife, offering people the chance to enjoy the countryside on London’s doorstep. Nevertheless, the quality of land within the Green Belt is variable, and demands for development continue to place pressure upon it.

Whilst for many the Green Belt is perceived to be a success of the planning system, to others it places undue pressures on meeting housing need within London. Consequently there is much confusion as to its purpose and there are regular calls for changes to Green Belt policy and protection to make it fit for purpose in the 21st century. The National Planning Policy Framework and London Plan retain a strong emphasis on protecting the green belt but it is arguably weaker in some aspects than previous planning policy. Nevertheless, a natural capital approach offers new approaches to its design, use and management.

First established in 1947, the Green Belt’s key character is its ‘open-ness’; any new development within it
should not compromise this ‘open character’. As such it aims to protect land from urban sprawl and keep conurbations and settlements distinct from each other. National planning policy sets out five purposes of Green belt, which are to:
- check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
- prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;

- assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
- preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
- assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Covering 513,860 hectares (2017, down from 528,080 ha in 2011), the Metropolitan Green Belt encircles and extends well beyond London with a mixture of farmland, woodland, country parks, golf-courses, cemeteries, nature reserves, reservoirs, and landfill sites. 22% of Greater London is designated as Green Belt with more than half found in just three boroughs; Bromley, Havering and Hillingdon at 7,730, 6,010 and 4,970 hectares respectively – see Addendum 2. More than half of the total area of Bromley and Havering is designated Green Belt.

Although most of London’s Green Belt has never been built on (and is, by definition, greenfield) some brownfield land is found within it; this is primarily landfill and land used for mineral extraction, but also includes water treatment works, airfields and farmyards. As future land use intensifies and residential densities increase, the contribution of the Green Belt (and other green spaces) to biodiversity, amenity, quality of life, and the open character of London - on which London’s sustained development depends - will become ever more important.

Only limited forms of development are permitted within Green Belt. Planning policy guidance for Green Belts is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF, 2019) – see Addendum 3. The presumption in favour of sustainable development does not override policies protecting the Green Belt although there is a slight softening of the position on designating new Green Belts, particularly around new settlements if one is proposed. The NPPF also urges local planning authorities to plan positively for the Green Belt, to enhance it for, amongst other functions, ‘landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity.’

The current London Plan (2016) states ‘The strongest protection should be given to London’s Green Belt, in accordance with national guidance. Inappropriate development should be refused, except in very special circumstances.’ (Policy 7.16). The key will be how local authorities apply the policies, and what measures they take to either amend, expand or reduce Green Belt areas within their area. The New London Plan (currently in development1) commits to a slightly stronger protective stance, under Policy G2 London’s Green Belt (see Addendum 4). In addition, London Plan and local plan policy identifies Metropolitan Open Land (‘inner London’s Green Belt’) as having an equal role and equal weight in planning decisions.
A network of wildlife sites is fundamental to the conservation of London’s biodiversity. The Green Belt covers 35,109 ha in London (2018), and includes 95% of London’s statutorily designated sites (e.g. SSSIs, LNRs), of which 13,604 ha is designated as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC, c39%, 2017). A SINC may also be designated in full or part as a statutory site such as a SSSI, SPA, etc. Examples of important London wildlife sites within the Green Belt include Hainault Forest, Crayford Marshes, Sixty Acre Wood, Frays Farm Meadows, and Totteridge Fields. Green Belt status provides these sites with an added – arguably greater - level of protection from development.

The Green Belt also offers opportunities for landscape scale conservation, by providing buffer zones around and links between individual sites set within a wider green matrix. Additionally, these can provide the foci of strategic regional initiatives such as ‘Darwin at Downe’ (Bromley), All London Green Grid (ALGG) Area Frameworks (e.g. London’s Downlands, Epping Forest & Roding Valley), and the Colne Valley Park (Hillingdon and neighbouring counties) which all have great significance for biodiversity conservation in the Green Belt. The ALLG is currently being reviewed, but is likely to reference the role of the Green Belt in meeting its objectives.

Nevertheless, not all land within London’s Green Belt is of high quality – for wildlife, landscape, or amenity. There are opportunities to enhance these elements of the Green Belt, or to re-designate parts that no longer meet its objectives - so long as there is no net loss of biodiversity.

Recent changes to planning policy and legislation, together with comprehensive housing and planning reviews by Government, have highlighted some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Green Belt some 70 years since its inception. They also give some indication of Government philosophy in respect of its future; whatever this may be, the concept of the Green Belt has become strongly rooted in the public’s heart and any major threats to it will undoubtedly be vigorously fought over. This was highlighted in the consultation responses to the revised NPPF and draft New London Plan in 2017-18.

However, the greatest dangers remain being the incremental losses and damage here and there. Since 2017 newly adopted Local Plans in two London boroughs (Croydon, Sutton) have resulted in a net loss of 110 hectares of Green Belt. Campaigners continue to remain vigilant on the abrasion of the quantity of Green Belt, and have advocated for more stringent application of policy. Recent studies suggest over 400 sites are now identified for housing in London’s Green Belt.

The Metropolitan Green Belt – and Metropolitan Open Land - will become more important as London’s climate is affected by the consequences of global warming; mitigating temperature extremes, helping to reduce flood risk and renew groundwater, and limiting the local extinction of isolated populations of wild [ 4 of 10 ]
plants and animals. The extension and strengthening of the network inwards towards London’s centre will be essential to meet this challenge; the development of ‘green infrastructure’ can be underpinned in the suburbs by a strongly protected and well-managed Green Belt.

Nevertheless, London Wildlife Trust considers that a comprehensive review of the Green Belt in London is required if its problems and threats are to be addressed. With the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change, sustainable urban regeneration and concerns over people’s quality of life, there is, more than ever, a need to return to the original principles, purposes and objectives for which the Green Belt was created, and reconfigure them for the 21st century.

The extent of the Green Belt in Hertfordshire

For each local authority in Hertfordshire, the newly released data from DLUHC shows

  • the total area

  • the hectares and percentage of total area that is designated as Green Belt

  • the hectares and percentage of total area that is designated as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and

  • the hectares and percentage of total area that is designated as any of Green Belt, AONB or SSSI.

This data is important because Green Belt, AONBs and SSSIs are protected under the National Planning Policy Framework and related guidance.

During the 12 month period covered by the report, eleven local authorities across England released Green Belt land for development through the adoption of new Local Plans. In Hertfordshire, Broxbourne Borough released 490 hectares of its Green Belt land for development through the adoption of its Local Plan in June 2020. This was more than any other local authority, and equates to 15% of its total Green Belt area, and 28% of all the Green Belt lost across the country.

In prior year reports, the Department records earlier loss of Green Belt. This includes 1,090 hectares of Green Belt land released for development through the adoption of the East Herts District Local Plan in October 2018, and 80 hectares of Green Belt land released for development through the adoption of the Stevenage Borough Local Plan in May 2019.

Current data shows the Hertfordshire districts with the most area of Green Belt, AONB and SSSI are

  • East Herts (16,560 hectares)

  • Dacorum (16,360 hectares)

  • North Herts (15,780 hectares), and

  • St Albans District (13,150 hectares).

The Hertfordshire districts with the highest percentage of their land area as either Green Belt, AONB or SSSI are

  • St Albans District (81.6%)

  • Welwyn Hatfield (79.1%)

  • Hertsmere (79%),

  • Dacorum (77%), and

  • Three Rivers (75.7%).

This data shows that half of Hertfordshire’s local authorities are effectively all Green Belt, AONB and SSSI outside of their existing urban areas.

The full extent of Green Belt land across Hertfordshire’s ten districts is as follows.  All data as of 31 March 2021.


What are the Challenges facing the London Green Belt?

The London Green Belt faces several challenges due to urbanization pressures and competing land uses. Some of the key challenges include:

  1. Housing Demand: There is a significant demand for housing in and around London due to population growth and affordability issues. This puts pressure on the Green Belt, as there is often pressure to release land for residential development within or near its boundaries.

  2. Infrastructure Development: The need for infrastructure, such as transportation networks, schools, healthcare facilities, and other amenities, often clashes with the restrictions of the Green Belt. Balancing the need for infrastructure development while preserving the Green Belt's open and undeveloped character can be a challenge.

  3. Encroachment and Development Pressure: There is a constant pressure for development to encroach upon the Green Belt. This can come in the form of proposals for new housing, commercial developments, or other infrastructure projects. It requires careful planning and decision-making to resist the pressure and maintain the integrity of the Green Belt.

  4. Agricultural and Rural Land Preservation: The Green Belt often encompasses agricultural land and rural areas, which contribute to food production, biodiversity, and landscape quality. Ensuring the viability and sustainability of agriculture within the Green Belt while protecting it from conversion to non-agricultural uses can be a challenge.

  5. Conservation and Biodiversity: The Green Belt plays a vital role in preserving natural habitats, biodiversity, and green spaces. Protecting and enhancing these ecological assets while managing recreational use and other activities can be a challenge, particularly in the face of urbanization pressures.

  6. Cross-Boundary Coordination: The Green Belt often spans multiple local authority areas, which can make coordination and decision-making more complex. Maintaining a consistent approach to Green Belt protection and management across different jurisdictions requires collaboration and cooperation between local authorities.


Addressing these challenges requires a balance between accommodating growth and development needs while safeguarding the long-term environmental, social, and economic benefits provided by the Green Belt. It often involves comprehensive planning, stakeholder engagement, and policy interventions to ensure sustainable land use practices and protect the integrity of the Green Belt.

What is the future of the London Green Belt?

The future of the London Green Belt will depend on various factors, including government policies, population growth, housing needs, and environmental considerations. Here are a few potential scenarios:

  1. Preservation and enhancement: There may be continued efforts to protect and enhance the Green Belt. Policies and regulations could be strengthened to prevent encroachment, promote conservation, and ensure the sustainable use of land within the Green Belt. This approach would prioritize the preservation of green spaces, biodiversity, and the rural character of the area.

  2. Development and urban expansion: In response to the increasing demand for housing and infrastructure, there might be pressures to encroach upon the Green Belt for development purposes. If policymakers prioritize urban expansion, there could be debates about modifying or reducing the Green Belt boundaries to accommodate growth. However, such decisions would likely be met with opposition from environmentalists, conservationists, and local communities concerned about the loss of green spaces.

  3. Balanced approach: A middle ground could be sought, aiming to balance the need for development with the preservation of the Green Belt. This approach might involve focusing development within existing urban areas, promoting brownfield redevelopment, and prioritizing sustainable construction practices. Efforts could be made to improve connectivity and transportation links, reducing the need for sprawling development into the Green Belt.


It's worth noting that any changes to the Green Belt would require careful planning, stakeholder engagement, and consideration of long-term implications. The future direction will depend on the priorities and decisions of policymakers, public opinion, and the wider societal and environmental context.

Further Information

If you would like to find out more about how our Planning Consultancy and Architectural Design Services can work in perfect sync to achieve a successful outcome in the planning system please CONTACT US and we will be only too happy to talk through any questions or development proposals you may have.


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Shropshire Office


Back Lane

Bomere Heath



Norfolk Office

34 Queen Elizabeth Avenue

Kings Lynn


PE30 4BX

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