GREEN belt land is under threat as planners earmark it for thousands of new homes - possibly as many as 7,700 - across the Wycombe district.

High Wycombe, Hazlemere, and Marlow are among the likely areas to be affected as council chiefs try to meet enforced housing targets.

The status of Green Belt land for possible future development is going to have be assessed due to Government policy, planning bosses reluctantly conceded last week.

Leading figures at Wycombe District Council spoke of the tough challenges facing the authority as it draws up a new Local Plan - including pressure to create new housing.

Officials said in a report that depending on the scale of growth at other settlements, notably Princes Risborough, it is likely 2,000 to 5,500 dwellings would need to be provided from the Green Belt.

A further 2,200 will be needed if the highest estimate is needed, making a possible total of 7,700.

These targets are to be met by 2031.

Cllr Neil Marshall, Conservative, Cabinet Member for Planning, said on Monday night: "It (the work for the local plan) includes the need for a Green Belt review which is probably one of the contentious things we are going to enter when we get into the public consultation.

"The fact is we have to do a Green Belt review, we have to have looked at it and considered whether it fulfils its purpose as Green Belt.

"If we haven't done the exercise then we it'll not stand up and be accounted for and we will have to go back and do it. We must do that part."

The review will be focused on southern Wycombe where Green Belt is not in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - including High Wycombe, Hazlemere, Flackwell Heath, Loudwater, Wooburn Green, Bourne End, Little Marlow and Marlow.

Areas of land, such as a section between the Marlow bypass and Little Marlow close to the running track could have potential for office development.

The Coalition's National Planning Policy Framework has transformed the requirements from councils in their long term plans.

It has introduced the "presumption in favour of sustainable development", leaving authorities having to objectively assess the need for building in their areas, including for housing, and aim to meet those needs unless there are strong reasons for not doing so.

The Green Belt review will assess why land was included in the Green Belt in the first place, for example to prevent urban sprawl, and the need to consider the more general suitability of sites or areas for development, including environmental constraints.

A public consultation will take place.