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the GiGLer

The newsletter of Greenspace Information of Greater London CIC

Tighten our Green Belts

Julie MacDonald, GiGL Data Officer


Since the 1950s, London’s green belt and metropolitan open land designations have been instrumental in protecting open space across the capital. However, London-wide datasets for these two designations are not currently widely accessible and those that exist do not accurately reflect the current site boundaries as designated by London boroughs.

Borough officers need this information in a form that is consistent with that used by the GLA and by planners and consultants. It has fallen, logically, to GiGL to collate it. Once compiled, the two new datasets will be available to all GiGL partners and will also be included within GiGL’s data search service. We will need the help of our borough partners to successfully achieve this task.

Green belt has arguably been one of the most successful aspects of post World War II planning reforms. The aim of green belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl and safeguard the countryside around cities and towns. Areas designated as green belt provide access to countryside and outdoor sport and recreation opportunities, enhance landscapes, retain traditional countryside uses, such as agriculture and forestry, and provide opportunities for nature conservation.

The metropolitan open land designation protects strategically important open spaces, those with London-wide significance, within the built environment. It provides a clear break in the urban fabric and contributes to the capital’s green character, often hosting outdoor facilities for Londoners away from their local area and boasting nationally or regionally significant features or landscape of historic, recreational or biodiversity value.

It is important that reliable information is available about the extent of the green belt and MOL to ensure that decisions on proposals within and surrounding these protected areas are properly informed.

The extent of green belt and metropolitan open land is published in each London borough’s unitary development plan or local development framework and development plan documents. We aim to collate this information in GIS format to provide an accurate dataset for Greater London. This will involve liaising with borough officers to access their green belt and metropolitan open land data and setting up procedures for their continued maintenance. GiGL will be working on this within the next few months and we will greatly appreciate any assistance borough partners can give us.

Please get in touch with if you can help supply green belt or MOL data for your London Borough, or if you would like further information.

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