The next Mayor of London should “grasp the nettle” and build homes on London’s Green Belt, a business leader has said.

Simon Neate, head of the London Chamber of Commerce property committee, said politicians have been too “deferential” to public opposition.

London’s Green Belt is an area of protected land that surrounds the city, where developers are not allowed to build.

Most politicians – including the majority of London Mayoral candidates – have vowed to safeguard it.

But as demand for housing in the capital increases, there is growing pressure to reconsider.

Last month, Government inspectors scrutinising Sadiq Khan’s plans for building in London called for a review of Green Belt development.

The Mayor has pushed back against their report, saying he is not willing to sacrifice protected countryside.

Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey and Liberal Democrat Siobhan Benita have both said industrial land could be used for home-building instead of Green Belt.

But the think-tank Centre for London and the London Chamber of Commerce back a review.

The Chamber supports limited building on the Green Belt, in areas where land is vacant or poorly used, such as former quarries, landfill, or car boot sale sites.

It believes 20,000 homes for emergency service workers – police, fire fighters and paramedics – could be built on just one per cent of the protected area.

The Chamber has also suggested that some of the 63 golf courses on London’s Green Belt could be used to build homes.

Mr Neate, a chartered town planner, said the capital was not meeting targets for new housing.

Speaking at a meeting with Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita yesterday, he said: “Isn’t there a danger that we’re kidding ourselves because we’re over-responsive or over-deferential to the public’s understandable and inevitable resistance to building on the Green Belt.

“We just need to grasp that nettle. Doesn’t the Mayor need to grasp the nettle of the Green Belt and initiate the review that’s been recommended?”