Since the Town and Country Planning Act in 1947, greenbelt nooses have ringed British cities, controlling, constricting and crushing their outward growth. Greenbelts are self-evidently harmful. For all of human history, when cities have grown, so have economies, societies and living standards, as well as, in some cases, civilisations and empires. But now, the average house in Britain costs more than ten times the average salary. Finding even a single room to rent in a flat-share has become a fierce Darwinian competition in the nation's capital. 4 million houses are missing from the British housing market. Who would know that interfering with such a fundamental process of human development would have such dire effects? Apparently not Clement Attlee, who, delirious on his own success, having beaten Britain's beloved wartime leader, Winston Churchill, in the 1945 general election, decided he would have a fun old time of it, ensuring a gradual, yet inevitable decline in Britain for many decades to come.

What might've been had greenbelts not strangled our cities' growth for the past seven decades? Tokyo, the largest city on Earth, continues to power a Japanese economy that might otherwise slowly capitulate to demographic collapse. Tokyo is, in truth, a combination of several large cities that grew into a formidable conurbation in a way that could only have happened in a greenbelt-less world. And what a world must that be. In Germany, the Rhine-Ruhr conurbation is a sprawling urban mass of many cities and towns that have coalesced into one of the most productive urban areas on Earth. The area is roughly equal in population to the area of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, and Leeds put together. What sort of Northern Powerhouse might've emerged had these cities been permitted to grow naturally?

These greenbelts are mutant- they are disgustingly supermassive tumours growing upon our cities- the beating hearts and the breathing lungs that give oxygen to our economy and society. 12.6% of England is given over to greenbelt land; around 2% of England is built on- clearly, the government is worried about the wrong "blob". Even worse is that greenbelts aren't even that green. It ain't easy being green- and greenbelts fail entirely to be so. The greenbelt is a combination of scrubland, brownfield sites, golf courses, and intensively farmed monocultures- much more dark, satanic mills than green and pleasant land. And greenbelts are destructive to our society, much less preservative as many claim. The commandment to preserve is best served by allowing young people to live where they grew up, allowing communities to grow naturally, with children and grandchildren living in the same places. Instead, it's a 45-minute drive to visit Grandma- so you don't really get to see her all too often anymore.

How dare greenbelt advocates claim they strive to preserve?

How dare this be allowed to continue?

And it will continue.

A patch of greenbelt land outside of Cardiff
Much of what we believe to be luscious green spaces are in fact overgrown scrublands which double up as local tipping sites.

There seems to be no end in sight. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Only crowing environmentalists wailing about the need to preserve the habitats of creatures nobody has ever heard of. Centuries ago, the counties of Lincolnshire and Somerset were primarily made up of marsh and fenland. They were entirely drained over the centuries, and painstakingly, towns, cities and villages emerged from what was once swampland.

Had modern environmentalists existed at the time, presumably, there would've been many tantrums — perhaps Just Stop Draining would've blocked Ye Olde Motorwaye, sitting hand in hand.

But the marshes and fens were drained. And we're still here. Nothing particularly disastrous happened. That favourite environmentalist catchphrase "ecosystem collapse" never emerged in reality, and a righteous fireball of green-fingered Thunbergian justice never did engulf the West Country and the East Midlands.

So let's abolish the green belt. Gone. No more. Concreted over. In a supposedly capitalist country, it does not make sense that there is a blanket ban on building. It is totalitarian. Developers should be allowed to build on it. They can be directed to build first on brownfield sites, farms and golf courses (which make up 7% of London's greenbelt) — because there is enough poor quality greenbelt land that building on that first may be enough to rebalance supply and demand for housing.

Abolishing the greenbelt should not be met with fear — are you listening, people of Surrey? There will still be somewhere to walk the dog — and I'm sure you'll find a new golf club somewhere; you might just have to drive a bit further. But with that great hardship — and oh, how great that hardship is — comes so many benefits. Generations of families will be able to live together in the same communities. Young people will be able to move to cities for jobs and opportunities. Abolishing the Greenbelt will break the poisonous shackles that are killing Britain.

I, for one, cannot wait.

Max Booth
Max Booth

Young journalist with strong opinions that aspires to work in Westminster.

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