A REVIEW of green belt land is to be carried out in the Chiltern district as council bosses look for ways to help them hit housing targets.

An assessment will be carried out over the next two years to see if land in the Chilterns still complies with the necessary green belt criteria - and if it doesn't, whether it is suitable for redevelopment.

But planning bosses have moved to reassure residents this does not mean large swathes of previously undeveloped land will be turned over for housing.

The review is being made by Chiltern District Council as part of their Local Plan to identify housing and employment needs in the district up to 2036 and will look at whether areas of green belt land in the district still fulfil government criteria.

These include restricting the sprawl of urban areas and encroachment of buildings into the countryside, preventing settlements from merging into one another and preserving the character of historic towns.

Chiltern District Council's planning policy manager Graham Winwright said: "We would assess all of it to see if it fulfils one or all of those purposes. If they don't, those could be areas we could look at for development.

"I'd be surprised if there are many areas, if any, in Chiltern that don't meet at least one of the five. If they don't, that's a clear candidate for taking out the green belt."

A number of consultations with the public will take place before anything can be decided, with the first seeing planning bosses asking for residents' views on how they think the review should be carried out. This is likely to take place either at the end of the year or the start of 2015.

Around 70 per cent of the land under the council's jurisdiction is a government designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which has heavy restrictions regarding development placed on it.

However government policies allow CDC to discuss with neighbouring authorities about working with them to help meet their housing targets."

Council Leader Isobel Darby said: "We need to get the balance between protecting the green belt against the need for housing and employment. That's going to be absolutely critical.

"I want to reassure residents this isn't a wholesale removal of the green belt. I wouldn't wish to pre-empt the result of this consultation but I would imagine it would be unlikely to suddenly see whole swathes of green fields disappearing from the Chilterns."