London’s Conservative mayoral candidate would consider building homes on the green belt to tackle the capital’s housing crisis.
His comments came at a London Chamber of Commerce event on Thursday, where members urged him to consider green belt construction to tackle the cost of housing - specifically for emergency service workers.
London’s Metropolitan Green Belt surrounds the city, and development on the land is restricted, aiming to prevent urban sprawl as the capital grows.
Over 500,000 hectares are protected - an area more than three times the size of London itself.
Bromley, Havering and Hillingdon have the biggest areas of green belt land within Greater London, with almost 20,000 protected hectares between them.
In total, almost a quarter of Greater London is designated green belt.
But Simon Eaton, chair of the chamber’s property and construction committee, said the city needed to take a fresh look at green belt.
He said: “The Chamber has done analysis of the green belt around London and reckons that a lot of land that is designated green belt doesn’t really serve green belt purposes.
“It is making a case that it is something that should be considered for release to provide space for the construction of new homes for emergency services workers and potentially others as well.”
Currently, more than half of the capital’s emergency service workers live outside Greater London, often due to the high cost of living.
The chamber has identified 329 hectares of land that if developed could provide 20,000 new homes – while using less than one per cent of London’s green belt, it claims.
Mr Bailey said he was open to considering the proposals, but would prioritise industrial land development.
He said: “I think we need to have a strategic look at industrial land across London.
“I think one of the craziest things our Mayor has done is banned any building on strategic industrial sites.”
He added: “As for the Green Belt all I can say is send us your paper – I’d gladly have a look. I’d like to see it.
“But my response right here right now is I don’t think we need to make that step. The first step is to see where we could build in London.”
A London Labour spokesperson said: “Sadiq has made protecting our precious Green Belt a key priority at City Hall.
“It is deeply disappointing to see the Tory candidate opening the door to allowing private developers to bulldoze it.”