The Latest Government Issued Green Belt Statistics


England has a land area of just over 13 million hectares of which about 8% is of developed use.

Land designated as Green Belt in England as at 31 March 2021 was estimated at 1,614,000 hectares, around 12.4% cent of the land area of England.

When including land designated as Green Belt, just over 37% of the area of England (4.9 million hectares) is protected against development by one or more environmentally protected designations, which includes National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

Overall there was a decrease of 1,750 hectares (-0.1%) in the area of land designated as Green Belt between 31 March 2020 and 31 March 2021.

11 local authorities altered their Green Belt boundaries resulting in the decrease in the overall area of land designated as Green Belt, mostly due to Local Plan reviews. The authorities that released the most were Broxbourne, Harlow and Lancaster.

In addition, updates to the Local Authority District (Mean High Water mark) boundaries resulted in a net increase of 10 hectares in the area of land designated as Green Belt, notably in coastal and tidal areas.

The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to:

  • to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
  • to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another
  • to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
  • to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
  • to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land

The South East has the largest area of land designated as Green Belt with 305,600 hectares, followed by the West Midlands with 264,980 hectares and Yorkshire and The Humber with 262,500 hectares.

Out of the 9 regions, London has the smallest area of land designated as Green Belt with 34,790 hectares but has the highest proportion of its total land area designated as Green Belt with 22.1 per cent.

The region with the smallest percentage is the South West with land designated as Green Belt accounting for 4.5 per cent of its total land area.

Credit - Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities Sept 2021