Gravesham countryside under threat
PUBLISHED: 13:03 29 May 2014 | UPDATED: 13:03 29 May 2014
Rural campaigners call for Green Belt to be safeguarded
The London Green Belt is under attack after a call for development sites resulted in almost half those submitted being in the designated area.
Gravesham Borough Council (GBC) was forced into asking for sites after a government appointed Inspector told them that their core strategy would fail examination otherwise. The Inspector told the council that they were unlikely to meet their housing needs without allocating further sites.
GBC opened a consultation for submissions for sites which could be developed, and have today published the result.
Almost half of the sites which have been proposed are in the Green Belt – supposedly one of the most protected landscape designations used in the national planning system.
Campaigners have reacted with dismay after the council announced the location of the proposed sites, suggesting that better, less damaging sites are available to the council.
Chairman of the district committee for CPRE Protect Kent – a charity dedicated to conserving the countryside – James Ferrin, told KoS why he feels Green Belt development is such a bad idea: “Urban sprawl into the countryside needs to be prevented. The countryside are the lungs of the town and also the larder. Several areas of prime agricultural land have been put forward which is hugely short sighted. With growing populations we need all the agricultural land possible to be able to provide for our population.”
“The countryside also woefully lacks the necessary infrastructure to accommodate huge population increases, not just roads schools and local amenities but also drainage, utilities and water. A field will soak away rainfall…. Concrete is impenetrable…and we all know the effects of flooding in recent times.”
When asked why he thought so many Green Belt and Greenfield sites had been proposed he said: “This is the easy way out for developers, both in terms of cash in their pockets and the physical ease of developing the sites, - there’s no clearing of contaminated areas or removal of industrial waste.”
He continued: “I would like to see Gravesham Council fight to protect the open spaces of the borough vehemently. Gravesham is not a suburb of London and nor should it be. Once green belt is developed it may open the flood gates and then where will urban sprawl stop. Gravesham announced a shortfall of around 460 units based on their most recent Local Development Plan. These sites open up way more than this figure so I would hope that the vast majority are discounted.”