It’s no exaggeration to say the threats against the Colne Valley Regional Park and indeed the Green Belt as a whole, have reached crisis point. We have written to Michael Gove to explain seven positive suggestions for improvement to the government’s planning policy in a bid to relieve the situation.
Development proposals are a fact of life. Some are entirely positive projects that bring obvious benefits, while others most certainly are not.
Here at the Colne Valley Regional Park, we have noticed an alarming increase in speculative, commercially-driven projects that are completely unsuitable in the Green Belt.
Despite political support for making use of brown field sites, they are normally post-industrial and need cleaning up before anything can be built on them. That can be expensive, which is why many developers prefer to make a case for building on the Green Belt instead.
There has been a tendency among planners to view proposals as one-offs, rather than looking at their cumulative impact on the character of a wider region. This is particularly true of the Colne Valley, which straddles several different local authority areas.
The result risks a kind of ‘death by a thousand cuts’ – lots of development proposals, ranging from gigantic infrastructure projects like motorway service areas, a theme park, HS2 and Heathrow expansion, to a myriad of smaller but still potentially damaging plans. If these were approved – and many appear to be heading that way – the future will be wide urbanisation of the Colne Valley Regional Park and its surrounding green areas.
This was not why the Green Belt was established on the edge of London and was not the intention when the Colne Valley Regional Park was created in 1965.
Green Belt Is Positive And Vital
The Colne Valley Regional Park is the first large taste of countryside immediately to the west of London. We are increasingly encountering a dangerously distorted view of the purpose of Green Belt, where it is portrayed as an obsolete and negative block to development.
The Colne Valley Regional Park is not anti-development. We are pro-countryside, and view the Green Belt as a positive thing for a better natural environment with recreation opportunities and access to nature to improve physical and mental health for the benefit of millions of people who live nearby. We aim to ensure the park thrives as a place for recreation, agriculture and wildlife, whilst playing its part to combat climate change.
How We Propose To Protect the Green Belt
At the Colne Valley Park we will do our best to respond to major development proposals. But this drains our resources and is simply tackling the symptom: if we want to effect real change we have to tackle the cause of all these major development proposals springing up in this precious but extremely fragile area of countryside and waterways.
We need government and local authorities to re-focus attention on to the Green Belt to keep it permanently open, protecting and improving it for the benefit of our communities and wildlife, rather than seeing it as merely a tiresome obstacle to development that must be overcome.
In the face of this onslaught of development proposals, we have written to Michael Gove with seven practical suggestions to improve Planning Policy requesting that he and his department incorporate them into planning reform.
What You can do to support our Campaign
Now is the time to speak up in support of the Green Belt. We really need your help to highlight the scale of the threat posed by creeping urbanisation and ill-considered schemes that would simply be in the wrong place. Please comment, like and share our twitter and facebook posts, and urge your local MPs and councillors to stand up for the Green Belt.
The CVRP covers nine parliamentary constituencies on the edge of London, Bucks, Berks, Herts & Surrey.
These are its MPs and their contact details.
|Uxbridge||Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP||[email protected]||@BorisJohnson||@BorisJohnson|
|Ruislip Northwood & Pinner||David Simmonds MP||[email protected]||@DSimmonds_RNP||@DavidSimmondsMP|
|Hayes & Harlington||John McDonnell MP||[email protected]||@johnmcdonnellMP||@johnmcdonnellmp|
|Windsor||Adam Afriyie MP||[email protected]||@AdamAfriyie||@adamafriyieofficial|
|Slough||Tan Dhesi MP||[email protected]||@TanDhesi||@tandhesi|
|Beaconsfield||Joy Morrissey MP||[email protected]||@joymorrissey||@Joy4Beaconsfield|
|Chesham & Amersham||Sarah Green MP||[email protected]||@SarahGreenLD||@LDSarahGreen|
|SW Hertfordshire||Gagan Mohindra MP||[email protected]||@gaganmohindra||@GaganMohindraMP|
|Spelthorne||Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP||[email protected]||@KwasiKwarteng||none|
To help the Colne Valley Regional Park protect and improve the Park and fight the development proposals please donate here.