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Greenbelt 'Swap Shop'

Ministers are preparing to relax the protection of green belt land as the government struggles to meet targets for housebuilding, it was claimed yesterday.

Sajid Javid, the communities and local government secretary, was said to be ready to encourage councils to allow more housing developments on green belt land provided that they created areas of protected land elsewhere.

Such a move, known as green belt swaps, would represent a huge change in planning policy and a shift by the government. It would provoke fury from environmentalists and countryside campaigners.