diamond geezer

 Wednesday, May 15, 2019

If you've ever wondered precisely where the Green Belt is, Alasdair Rae has made a map.

Click through and you can scrutinise all of England's protected rings, not just around London but Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham and Newcastle too, to name but a few. It's fascinating to explore, and full of "well, I never realised"s. Thanks Alasdair.

The Green Belt, you'll remember, is a planning tool designed to check unrestricted sprawl, encourage building on brownfield sites and assist in safeguarding the countryside. Without the Green Belt we'd have more houses but a less green and pleasant country, so it's a fine balancing act.

London's Green Belt covers over a million acres from Bedfordshire to the Sussex border, in some places up to 35 miles from the capital. But it also spills inside the Greater London boundary. By bashing the data I can calculate what proportion of each London borough is Green Belt land.

% of land that is Green Belt
Havering 53%
Bromley 51%
Hillingdon 43%
Enfield 38%
Redbridge 37%
Barnet 27%
Croydon 27%
Hounslow 22%
W Forest 22%
Harrow 22%
Bexley 18%
Kingston 17%
Bark & Dag 15%
Sutton 14%
Ealing 6%
Richmond 2%
Newham 2%
Haringey 2%

Others 0%
Inner London: 0%         Outer London: 28%
Greater London: 22%

Over half the land in Havering and Bromley is Green Belt, a lot of this agricultural. Almost half of Hillingdon is Green Belt too, with Enfield and Redbridge closer to one-third. Meanwhile Ealing, Newham and Haringey have very little Green Belt land, and Brent and Merton none, because these boroughs don't reach the edge of London. The Green Belt was introduced before Greater London was established, so none of what's now Inner London is Green Belt but 28% of Outer London is. You wouldn't want to build on most of that 28%. You might want to build on some of it.

To explore what the Green Belt means for London I've taken a 15 mile eastbound bus journey across town from Tottenham Hale to Harold Hill (12366174) through unexpectedly many fingers of unbuildable green.

The closest patch of Green Belt to central London is along the River Lea around Tottenham Hale. It includes all of what's now the Walthamstow Wetlands, plus Tottenham Marshes and Markfield Park. It's mostly water so you wouldn't want to build here anyway. Walthamstow Marshes are not included, but land doesn't have to be Green Belt to be safe from development.

To show the power of the Green Belt in action, look alongside the River Lea just north of Tottenham Lock on Ferry Lane. Until a few years ago this splinter of land was a working environment, and would have been designated industrial in the 1950s so dodged Green Belt status. Today it's being redeveloped as a long thin line of unexpectedly tall flats, their footprint unable to extend into the protected zone, and architecturally at odds to the neighbouring cluster closer to the station. This eyesore is to be called Hale Wharf, and the developers have airbrushed a fairground carousel into the artist's impression to try to disguise how ugly it looks. The Green Belt stretches upriver from here all the way to Ware and Bishop's Stortford.

Heading east the next strand of Green Belt hangs down the far side of Walthamstow along the border between Waltham Forest and Redbridge towards Wanstead Flats. There's a very good reason why this strip is protected and that's because it's officially Epping Forest, so belongs to the City of London. But it's not entirely safe from destruction because here the age-old woodland has been despoiled by a mammoth roundabout courtesy of the North Circular, and what looks like a buttercup meadow is really the top of a covered reservoir. The Forest creates a very effective green barrier elsewhere, but the Waterworks Roundabout is a ghastly scar.

And the River Roding's turned out worse. You wouldn't build along its immediate floodplain anyway, but this corridor of undeveloped Green Belt proved irresistible when the M11 was being built and so is now mostly concrete viaducts and dual carriageway. Charlie Brown's Roundabout may sound cute (it's named after a pub landlord, not the Peanuts character), but the motorway and North Circular have devoured this part of the Roding's valley wholly and completely.

I had to switch buses at Gants Hill to reach the next bit of Green Belt, alongside Eastern Avenue beyond Newbury Park. A ridiculously large area of arable fields and scrubland survives to the north of the A12, purely because it hadn't yet been built on when the Green Belt was established so can't be touched. That said, King George Hospital got shoehorned into a tongue of land to the south of the main road at Little Heath in the 1990s, because building hospitals is OK. I'm not a fan of building on the Green Belt but these two square miles of undistinguished flat land, not so far from Crossrail, could safely be sacrificed to build tens of thousands of badly needed homes.

Marks Gate is such a sacrifice, a late Fifties estate built just before legislation would have made it impossible. At the northern tip of Barking and Dagenham it's surrounded on three sides by Green Belt, much of it scrappy scrubby carbooty wastes, entirely unlike the bucolic greenery most people might envisage. The A12 ploughs on through the middle of grassy mounds, golf courses and fields of crops, without a single bus stop for over a mile because there's no point in stopping because there's nothing here. There could be something here, should London's housing problem ever require something of significance, but instead drivers on one arterial road get to see some nice trees for a minute or two and that's about the only benefit.

Switching buses again, this time in Romford, the Green Belt makes its next appearance in Gidea Park. This time it's all about golf courses, one to the north of Eastern Avenue and another to the south providing a green buffer that most local people never use. Further north is pretty parkland and woodland and wildflower meadow and even hills, then glorious rolling Essex, so rightly protected, but mid-city golf courses always feel like such a terrible waste.

And finally, on the outer reaches of Harold Hill, the proper Green Belt boundary kicks in. A canopy of green leaves rises above the rooftops in Dagnam Park Drive, but you can't get to the trees themselves because nobody said the Green Belt had to be accessible. One cul-de-sac ends with a sign saying watch out for deer, then a fence, then a sports ground... then the M25, and then it's Green Belt all the way to Chelmsford. The Harold Hill estate was completed in 1958 and is a vast sprawling example of what happens when there isn't a Green Belt - the countryside is lost forever but tens of thousands of people have a home. It is, by design, where London stops.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan23  Feb23  Mar23  Apr23  May23  Jun23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
our bow
ian visits
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Jun23  May23
Apr23  Mar23  Feb23  Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards