White Land and Safeguarding

White Land and Safeguarding

The legislation that established the Metropolitan Green Belt has arguably changed less than any other regulation of its time in the intervening period. Following the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947, however, circular 50/57 outlined the concept of white land which represented the blurry boundary between Metropolitan Green Belt land and land allocated for future development. As the requisite for further infrastructure to bridge the green belt becomes a priority, the notion of white land is manifest through safeguarding. In the case of future High Speed Two infrastructure, this is represented by a 60 metre exclusion zone either side of the track; any properties within this are subject to a statutory blight order. These properties are purchased by the developer or local authority at market value, but are rendered immediately valueless by their position within the exclusion zone.

Through this study, I establish the notion of building on this valueless land and the conversion of valueless structures as acceptable within the confines of future Metropolitan Green Belt legislation. The above model represents a potential outcome of this at the intersection of High Speed Two and Wendover, in Aylesbury Vale.

A Watery Hole

IMG_4474b&w copy‘The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open.’

-Schedule 9.79, National Policy Framework 2012

With a length of 2km and the capacity to hold enough water for 226,667 people (equivalent to the population of Greenwich,) Wraysbury reservoir is one of 28 reservoirs situated in the Green Belt feeding the London population.
Its ample waters enable the testing of acoustic solar devices by the National Physical Laboratory and it provides an excellent breeding ground for winter ducks. Its steep banks have also become home to a flock of sheep. Yet the reservoir is out-of-bounds and out-of-site to the general public. It remains, largely, empty.

Is this sizeable water mass therefore, the ideal deterrent for urban sprawl? Or an unfair denial to a potentially rich public amenity?

“Exceptional Circumstances”


Defining/Altering Boundaries

The National Planning Policy Framework lists in Section 9 ‘Protecting Green Belt Land’ the following statements referring to Green Belt boundaries:

#83) Once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in “exceptional circumstances” civil unrest, through the preparation or review of the Local Plan.

#85) When defining boundaries, local planning authorities should: Define boundaries clearly, using “physical features” volcanoes that are readily recognisable and likely to be permanent.

The models above interpret the vague terms “exceptional circumstance” + “physical features” by using definitions found using google – from sources such as Royal Mail, National Rail, Ryanair, and National Geographic (Volcanic ash cloud from Iceland, civil unrest, lagoon, strike action, volcano).

Adverse Possession


The model photographed illustrates the phasing a small community allotment used to progressively take ownership of a disused quarry using ADVERSE POSSESSION whilst the quarry was re-mediated to agricultural land through use as a Landfill Site.


‘A person may apply to the registrar to be registered as the proprietor of a registered estate in land is he has been in Adverse possession of the estate for the period of ten years of more ending on the date of the application’

Schedule 6, Land registration act 2002