From green belt to blue sieve : rethinking London's metropolitan green belt
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This study examines the effectiveness of the Metropolitan Green Belt (MGB), to understand whether or not, its benefits can be expanded to address the region’s current and future challenges. The region is considered ‘water stressed’, and demand already exceeds supply during dry years. The MGB is thought to exacerbate the problem of access to affordable housing, as it locks up the city’s surrounding land supply. At the same time, it is thought to deliver ecosystem services, such water and air purification. Current planning policy requires both the preservation of Green Belt land, and the provision of sites for development, based on assessed market needs. The region’s unprecedented population growth, has resulted in conflicts in policy, leading to uncoordinated planning applications, for thousands of homes being approved all over the MGB. The study uses three primary methods to explore how the MGB can accommodate development, whilst protecting and enhancing ecosystem services. The Natural Assets method uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to perform a green infrastructure analysis. GIS is also used to carry out spatial and hydrological analyses. A pilot study will simulate the Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) conceptual design process, to understand the implications and benefits of this approach on green field developments in South East England.