Filed under: Green Build
Ever since the 1930s, the policy of ‘green belt’ – rural, green land that has been designated as protected from outside development – has been preventing urban sprawl from encroaching into the countryside and protecting the environment.
Unfortunately land once considered safeby being designated ‘Green Belt’ has become much less so in recent times. Many environmentalists support the continued protection of the green belt. Over 1,100 hectares of green belt have been lost every year since 1997, and over 45,000 homes have been built on green belt land – the size of the City of Bath – since 1997.
There are cases all over the country of green belt land being reclassified and then built on. It does rather remind me of the famous John Prescott quote when he was deputy PM; “The green belt is a Labour achievement; and we intend to build upon it”.
Case 1. Near Bath a government inspector from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has ruled 35 acres are to be removed from the green belt with the potential to be built on. Residents opposed to the plans said they are and are very disappointed the remainder of the land was likely to be built on.
Case 2. ‘South Cambridgeshire District Council produced a report “The Way Forward” – An Assessment of the DEGW Report to Cambridge City Council on the Eastern Expansion of Cambridge. Edge of Cambridge by drawing back the Green Belt – 8,100 Houses. For longer term reserve by drawing back Green Belt – 4,600 Houses. This approach was agreed by the Council’s Planning Committee in April 2001. In coming to this overall strategy the committee considered the general locations where the Green Belt around Cambridge would need to be withdrawn to provide for the 8,100 houses.’
Case 3. Manchester ; a council which boasts of its rural credentials is planning to use 98 acres of green belt land – about 56 Old Trafford football pitches – for industrial use. Salford council has earmarked the land at Barton Moss, on the Eccles and Irlam border, to attract companies to the borough. It would mean either Grade 1 agricultural land or Boysnope Park golf course being ripped up to provide warehousing and other industry. The site is to the west of City Airport Manchester – formerly Barton Aerodrome.
Case 4. Coventry; a planned Eco-town on greenbelt land at Keresley, it is being opposed and may not happen.
Case 5. Southport Lancashire; developers could build houses on Greenbelt land in and around Southport in a bid to stave off a looming ‘housing crisis’.
Case 6, Surrey. The Office of Deputy Prime Minister announced that Surrey County Council, which is responsible for education and social care in the county, had been given permission to build the school to re-house Freemantles School, Chertsey. For the residents of Mayford, home to the sensitive green belt land that separates Woking from Guildford, it is the third time this year that “very special circumstances” have been found to justify building on supposedly protected land. Also in Reigate and Redhill; where the Green Belt has been stripped to pave way for 10,000 homes in the borough.
Case 7, Canvey Island Essex handsoffourgreenbelt says between 1000 – 1500 houses and fifteen acres of industrial development to be built on greenbelt land.
I blame the Barker review, which imposed local councils with finding thousands of locations for new homes. Instead of looking for radical ideas, Labour have chosen to focus on building ever more houses on increasingly less appropriate land. A few alternatives would have been to use empty homes, second homes, or all those empty office blocks could be turned into housing with no need to build on green sites.
Also a bit of government planning would see investment in areas where housing is cheap and jobs scarce, so less pressure on the South East. When I discussed this with my Labour MP Martin Salter he though I was being Stalinist. We moved the DVLA to Swansea years ago, why not send some other London based civil servants to the rest of the country? I see Labourhave been considering my plan. ‘Labour’s plan to dismantle Whitehall revealed; 132,000 civil servants and 90,000 employees of “arm’s-length bodies” currently based in London and the south-east’.
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