Sir – The statement from our local MPs (Letters, September 29) that the Government is committed to protecting the Green Belt is welcome, but the view they express that the draft National Planning Policy Framework continues this protection is hard to accept.

Central to the proposed planning reforms is the so-called “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

But this presumption has never existed in Green Belts where the presumption has always been the opposite to this, ie that most forms of development are inappropriate unless very special circumstances are present to justify them. Such circumstances might include the need for some affordable housing. Otherwise planning permission should be refused, and this is what has protected our Green Belts over the years.

The key to the future of the Green Belt is whether or not the Government’s “presumption in favour of sustainable development” will apply in Green Belts or not. If it does, the MPs are wrong in saying that the Green Belt will continue to be protected, since Green Belts will now be treated in the same way as the rest of the countryside, reversing 50 years of Green Belt policy. If it does not, then there should be a clear statement added to the National Planning Policy Framework to the effect that this “presumption in favour of sustainable development” does not apply in Green Belts.

Only if this is done can we believe that the Government really is committed to their protection. How about it?

Ian Scargill, Chairman, Oxford Green Belt Network, Summertown