Green Belt

The National Planning Policy Framework sets out that Government attaches great importance to Green Belts. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence. Green Belt serves five purposes:
a) to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
b) to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
c) to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
d) to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
e) to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and
other urban land.

Once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified, through the preparation or updating of plans.

Ickenham’s Green Belt is set out in the Hillingdon Local Plan Policies Map which is available online here:

The image below is from the national map of planning data from GOV.UK  (This uses OpenStreetMap, which  is available under the Open Database Licence, and a condition of sharing it is to link to this copyright page ).


History of the local Green Belt

Excerpt from: Open land and the Green Belt, a background paper and interim policy

Planning Department of the London Borough of Hillingdon 1973

(Available form Uxbridge Library)

Chapter 3: The Green Belt, the present situation in LBH

The green belt was first included in a statutory development plan under the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act relating to LBH in 1951 in the County of Middlesex Plan. The policy, as stated, was simply to prevent for all time incompatible development on areas to which the local planning authority (then Middlesex County Council) gave the “green belt” notation.

Although certain quite large areas of land, including much land now held by the borough, had previously been purchased by the LPA for green belt purposes under the Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act 1938 it was at this time that it was determined that the green belt should cover all the main areas of open land in what is now the LBH.

This policy was continued virtually unchanged in the County Middlesex plan 1965 which became the initial development plan for LBH under the Local Government Act 1963. This Act constituted both the Greater London Council and the present London Boroughs. It is this initial development plan which still forms the basis of much of LBHs planning policy. It will eventually be replaced by both the Greater London development plan and LBH’s borough plan.

In the past the green belt has been applied strictly as a land use control policy and it is this aspect of it which is most clearly defined in the Greater London development plan. The extent and land uses can be measured reasonably easily with reference to the GLC land use survey and the records of planning decisions which have been made over a period of time.

Brief description of the geographic context of his green belt

A map of the Metropolitan Green Belt West of London shows how apt is the description of the green belt given in Professor Thomas’s 1970 book A Moth Eaten Blanket Full of Holes. The only inaccuracy in this analogy is that in a number of cases pieces of “blanket” are quite detached and surrounded by “hole” . The map shows a pattern of development virtually frozen as at the time of the green belt first appeared on statue development plans

The superficial joke geology of the area and the borough indicates the extent of the conditions which give land mainly in the South it’s value both for gravel and sand extraction and for horticulture and market gardening.

The borough’s green belt can be divided into three areas, each having separate characteristics.

The NW area is a large area of undulating country surrounding Harefield and stretching down to Uxbridge. The land is continuously open and is part of the main metropolitan green belt extending into Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. It is predominantly grade 3 agricultural land. It is reasonably well managed either being woodland or under permanent pasture. For the time being farmers seem to have come to terms with the problem of intrusion from urban visitors. Large part of the area are in the Colne valley Park and it also includes Bayhurst Wood Country Park and Ruislip Lido.

The central area includes a number of relatively small pockets of open country separated from one another by urban development. Part of the area is on the fine soils associated with the brick over laying gravel and part of the Middlesex clay. This area is mostly rather flat and there are many places where the land is degraded and derelict, often as a result of gravel extraction. Some farming continues, mostly in the areas immediately to the west and south of Northolt Airport, but in general agriculture and market gardening appeared to be fragmented and marginal and a substantial proportion of the land was described vacant land in the 1971 land use survey.

The South area – London airport forms the southern boundary of this area which extends up to the M4 and north around West Drayton and the Colne Valley. It includes a large area of first class agricultural land with rich brick earth soils divided into 3 sections east of Harmondsworth by Simpson and Harlington villages. Although this land is still mainly used for market gardening, much of it is now owned by property development companies and gravel extraction companies. The M4 acts as a barrier which helps to prevent infiltration from the residential areas to the north, but it also provides very good potential accessibility both to inner London and the western parts of the South East region. The area west of London airport includes several gravel workings in the Colne valley which form the eastern boundary of an important neck of the green belt between Slough and Metropolitan London.