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There Are ‘Hundreds of Threats to Green Belt’ Say CPRE

Published on: 2 Jun, 2016
Updated on: 2 Jun, 2016
Extract from CPRE map

Extract from CPRE map showing strategic sites included in the latest draft Local Plan. Interactive map can be found below.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has published a new map highlighting current threats to the Metropolitan green belt, which covers 84% of Surrey’s countryside but which is increasingly being “nibbled away”, by inappropriate development, say the campaigners.

The map shows nearly 200 sites under threat from development, and proposals for building over 110,000 houses on “protected” green belt land including 41,500 houses in Hertfordshire, 27,000 in Essex, and 20,000 here in Surrey.

These include the large housing schemes proposed for Wisley and for Blackwell Farm on the Hogs Back, both included in the latest draft of the Guildford Local Plan.

Catherine Maguire, CPRE green belt campaigner, said: “The government’s pre-election commitment to protect our green belt is not being adhered to. David Cameron said the green belt would ‘safe with us’, but it is manifestly not safe.

“The Metropolitan Green Belt has saved our countryside. It is hugely valuable – more so now than ever, with more and more pressure being piled on the South East.

“If it had not been for the green belt preventing urban sprawl, London could have followed the example of Los Angeles, and would now spread from Brighton to Cambridge, with millions of people car-dependent and horrendous traffic and pollution problems.”

She added: “The planning system has been weakened to the extent that even the ‘strongest protection’ afforded to green belt land is being ignored on a widespread basis.

“Even though the government has clarified that housing needs cannot ‘trump’ green belt, it has also piled pressure on councils to release land for new homes and does not take action when protected green belt land is released. This is flagrantly hypocritical.

“What’s even more maddening is that there is categorically no need to release green belt for development. The London Plan identifies brownfield development opportunities in the capital alone that could provide 300,000 new homes.

“The developer lobby has been very successful in promulgating the myth that we must release green belt land if we want new homes. This is unsurprising given that houses in the green belt would make a tidy profit for developers, being in such nice locations.

“But they are expensive – not the affordable ones we need. If anything we now need to strengthen, not weaken, green belt land protections: we need to focus on building new homes in the right places, not in the green belt, not in the wider countryside, not in AONBs – Areas of Outstanding National Beauty – but on appropriate sites in already built-up areas.”

Catherine’s views are supported by Andy Smith, Surrey Branch Director of CPRE, who said: “Here in Surrey we are facing a tidal wave of new development schemes, and local councils seem to be increasingly willing to give up green belt land to make way for this development.

“But in CPRE’s view there is no justification to sacrifice these open spaces to meet arbitrary housebuilding targets and short-term political goals. The green belt has successfully held off inappropriate development for the past 70 years. We should not give up on it now.”

George Dokimakis, the vice-chair of the Guildford Labour Party, commented: “The involvement and input of the CPRE to Guildford Borough Council’s Local Plan is welcome as it is from any other party. Our councillors supported the Local Plan to go public to enable exactly such scrutiny and debate by everyone in our Borough.

“Green belt land, and especially Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, must be safeguarded and should only be considered when no other options are left.

“We must also be wary of groups with little local knowledge of needs and circumstances making generic statements or aiming to influence local policy.”

CPRE Surrey Branch will be holding a planning form at Leatherhead Institute next Monday evening (June 6) on Surrey’s green belt issues.

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Responses to There Are ‘Hundreds of Threats to Green Belt’ Say CPRE

  1. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    June 2, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Here is clear evidence re the Government’s real intention for brownfield sites – not help developers and make it easy for developers to renege on affordable housing promises based upon not being viable.

    The only joined up thinking of this government is to let developers pillage our countryside, make huge profits from houses built for people who are not currently living in the UK. Affordability is a red herring and the SHMA show it.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    June 2, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Please can someone explain to me why whenever green belt is mentioned in Guildford, Gosden Hill is never included? Wisley and Blackwell Farm always get a mention but Gosden Hill is a working farm in the green belt separated from Burpham by ancient woodland, common land and local green space designation.

    It is based on a very strong edge of development line generated in 1948. Neither Wisley nor Blackwell have these strong and historic edges to the green belt. So wake up folks its the sites with strong and defensible lines which need recognising not simply because you can see it from a particular place.

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