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Last edited 02 Mar 2020
The term 'ribbon development' refers to a line of houses built along existing highways (or railways or similar linear barriers), each being served by individual accesses. The land to the rear of the houses is not developed. The buildings can be positioned back from the road, staggered, set at different angles from the road, or left with gaps between them, and still be classed a as ribbon development, so long as they are visually linked when viewed from the highway.
Ribbon developments arose following Industrial Revolution, predominantly along railway lines, such as the ‘Metroland’ following London’s Metropolitan. They became more prevalent along roads radiating from towns in the 1920s and 1930s, but also along ridge lines, canals and coastlines. One reason for their popularity with developers was that services provided along the roads could be exploited, reducing the cost of development.
They became the focus of criticism for their inefficient use of resources and for their tendency to lead to urban sprawl, with towns and settlements that were once separate entities becoming more closely linked, or merging. They also made it more difficult to plan the expansion of settlements, and they hindered access to farmland.
The Town and Country Planning Act 1947 introduced green belt policies, intended in part, to curtail the spread of ribbon developments. Green belts establish a buffer zone between urban and rural land, separating town and country and preserving land for forestry, agriculture and wildlife where environmental conditions can be improved and conservation encouraged.
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