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Green Belt Threat

What We Need To Protect What We Need To Protect Photo: CPRE-IW

This week Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) published a report Green Belt Under Siege

3rd May 2016.  This week Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) published a report Green Belt Under Siege that condemns the Government’s relaxing the rules about protection of the Green Belts around towns and cities.  Way back in 1926 the then government asked for solutions to prevent the ever-growing sprawl of industries into surrounding countryside.  The obvious cure was to establish Green Belts around major conurbations where there would be a total ban on development and thus CPRE became established to keep a watchful eye on protected landscapes.

Pressure is now threatening rural areas due to increasing development of huge housing estates within areas that should be sacrosanct.  The Conservative 2015 election manifesto committed the incoming Government to protecting the Green Belt and Prime Minister David Cameron publicly said: ‘Green Belt land is extremely precious.  Protecting the lungs around our cities is paramount for me’.

The reality has been very different.  Only last month the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark decided that 1,500 new homes should be built on Green Belt between Gloucester and Cheltenham in one of the biggest developments on Green Belt land for a decade.

CPRE’s latest research now reveals figures that show housing development proposed for the Green Belt has shot up by another 50,000 to more than a quarter of a million houses, making a mockery of Government commitments to protect it.

At the same time the Government is proposing changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that are likely to open the door to further Green Belt release, while the Government-appointed ‘Local Plans Expert Group’ has encouraged Green Belt reviews.

So why should we worry about this on the Island?  Strictly speaking the subject matter does not refer to the Isle of Wight but if one substitutes Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) for Green Belt, then the comparison is interesting.  Here, around 50% of the Island is an AONB and we see more and more of this precious acreage being nibbled away by development of housing.  We call this the Curse of Creeping Concrete (CCC) and once covered over, there is little chance that there could be restoration of what has been lost.  Can we expect tourists to visit larger and larger housing estates that replace beautiful landscapes?  We think not...

In this 90th anniversary year of CPRE, the Island branch continues to monitor and comment on Planning Applications released every week from IW Council Planning Offices.  We may not win every battle but we let the IWC know that we intend to protect our beautiful Island to the utmost extent.  If any IW resident would join us to that end, we would be pleased to hear from them.   Contact details may be found on our website Isle of Wight CPRE.

John Langley

CPRE-IW Chairman



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