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The Green Belt Effects on Urban Development

With the deterioration of the environmental situation in cities, especially in metropolises, the preservation and improvement of the Green Belt play an essential role from the ecological, sanitary-hygienic, and aesthetic sides. The Green Belt is an area of forests, agricultural and unused land, specially preserved in the cities’ territories. In the postwar period, they were created in various countries to stop urban sprawl, protect the environment and provide comfortable living conditions. The Green Belt around megalopolises is the way to a new quality of life in cities.

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The concept of Green Belts was first applied in Great Britain. Urban planners in many countries believed that the best way to stop environmental degradation was to rigidly separate rural spaces from downtown development (Vernet & Coste, 2017).

Firstly, it should contain the process of urban sprawl – the uncontrolled territorial expansion of the city through the growth of low-rise suburbs, as it happened in the United States. Secondly, the Green Belt was to preserve forests and agricultural land. Thirdly, it was supposed to provide urban dwellers with access to recreational areas and spaces of unspoiled nature. Fourth, the mission of the Green Belt was to protect the historical heritage of London’s satellite cities and prevent them from merging with the metropolis. In addition, this policy was to improve the ecological situation: purify the air, and water, and regenerate the land.

However, the artificial restriction of London’s development created many social, environmental, and economic problems and also showed its ineffectiveness. Its results were a significant increase in housing prices caused by limited land supply and the uncontrolled sprawl of satellite cities, whose residents are forced to commute to work in the metropolis. Therefore, in recent decades, the concept of the Green Belt has been heavily criticized and is no longer seen as the only solution to urbanization problems.

An important aspect is the possibility of incorporating the Green Belt concept into U.S. legislation. However, given the adverse effects, this should be done with some changes. First, to avoid a housing crisis, green space planning should identify areas where growth is possible and areas where it is strictly forbidden. Second, special attention should be paid to the development of suburban transport. Thirdly, instead of creating only Green Belts that severely limit the growth of cities, it can be considered the concept of Green Wedges, following the example of the Scandinavian countries. They allow for more efficient urban transportation infrastructure, do not alter the space for town expansion, and do not contribute to higher housing prices.

In today’s rapidly developing metropolises, creating green areas, parks, and squares takes center stage in solving a livable ecological situation. The primary function of correcting this kind of problem of the city environment in modern urban planning is assigned to the Green Belts. It is necessary to conduct a site analysis to determine the overall structure of the immediate suburbs so that a program of development in Green Belt areas in the United States can be implemented. Cities and their suburbs need to develop; they cannot be permanently confined to a particular line. The law should provide for the possibility of changing the boundaries to the exclusion of some territories, with mandatory compensation at the expense of the inclusion of others. This policy should be flexible and adapted to the infrastructure of the town and the needs of its inhabitants.


Vernet, N., & Coste, A. (2017). Garden cities of the 21st century: A sustainable path to suburban reform. Urban Planning, 2(4), 45-60. Web.

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