Rural communities should drop their "semi-religious" attachment to the green belt and take part in a common sense debate about housing growth, a West Midlands property consultant has argued.

Worcestershire chartered surveyor John Truslove said land in the countryside that could be suitable for development was too often considered untouchable.

Mr Truslove is urging the Government to declare as green belt all undeveloped land on a flood plain while taking a more liberal view on other green field sites.

He said: "It doesn't need more than two brain cells to understand that building on flood plains doesn't make any kind of sense if we are to experience growing and further climate change such as we suffered this summer.

"And at the same time, there is land that is currently designated green belt purely on the basis of its location, and, one suspects, that may not be green belt for all time.

"What I am arguing is that we need a mature debate about what should realistically be designated green belt, which to my mind must include any undeveloped land on a flood plain, and what has been considered untouchable for political or cultural reasons, rather than reasons of commonsense."

Outright opposition to any development in the countryside could be self-defeating, he warned.

Mr Truslove added: "Rural areas that have steadfastly resisted any marginal development or intelligently planned expansion that would have seen a few smaller developments added gradually over a period of decades, should not now be surprised when they are told that there are plans for 200 or 400 dwellings on their doorstep.

"They should also not express surprise and outrage when they lose their local post office, their village shop, pub and sometimes first school because they have been determined to repel all boarders since time immemorial."

And he said planning authorities were prepared to ignore green belt restrictions when it suited them.

"Just taking Redditch for example, it is not so many years since Redditch Borough Council was adamant that the treeline above Wirehill Drive to the south west of the town was the absolute limit for expansion in that direction. Now we have the very substantial Callow Hill village the other side of that seemingly sacrosanct line.

"Similarly, we were told that there could never be any residential development north of Salters Lane to the north of the town. Now Brockhill estate has sprung up and looks like continuing to grow.

"It could be that when you designate all undeveloped land in flood plains as de facto green belt, and start to take an intelligent look at what is currently considered untouchable green belt, that you might end up with a credit balance."