There are separate Green Belts surrounding nearly all the major towns in Britain. Their principle purposes are to:

 Check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas.

 Prevent neighbouring towns from merging.

 Assist in safeguarding the countryside.

 Preserve the setting and character of historic towns.

 To assist and encourage urban regeneration.

The extent of the Green Belt in your locality will be identified on the Proposals Maps contained within a Local Plan or Unitary development Plan etc for your area.

Within the Green Belt permission to carry out 'development' is severely restricted and planning consent is only granted in a limited number of circumstances. These include:-

 certain agricultural and forestry related building and uses.

 outdoor sporting uses and essential ancillary facilities.

 minor works to existing residential properties.

 works of national interest or importance.

In the main the majority of proposals for development will only be granted planning permission if they can justify that there are "very special circumstances" why permission should be granted.

Although the principles of Green Belt protection are common to all designated Green Belts, Local Plans do apply some very limited policy interpretations to reflect local circumstances. You should check the Green Belt policies set out in your Local Plan to establish what you may or may not be able to do.

Green Belt boundaries can be altered from time to time in response to the needs and pressures for development. Proposals for change are brought forward as part of a Councils' development plan review and will inevitably attract considerable interest and debate. However, even so, boundaries may only be altered in exceptional circumstances.

Detailed guidance on Green Belts is set out in 'Planning Policy Guidance Note 2:Green Belts' available from HMSO bookshops, or in Scotland the Scottish Development Department Circular 24/1985 available from the Scottish Development department, New St Andrews House, St James Centre, Edinburgh EH1 3SZ.

Main libraries may also hold copies for inspection.