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02 Jun 2004

GREEN BELT THREAT

The Treasury seems to have its eye on the green belt and is determined to loosen control to make development easier. Locally we have benefited from a policy of a firm green belt, it has kept our communities and villages character intact and enforced a barrier between rural Essex and London

Green Belts were formally introduced by 1955. The then Minister for Housing and Local Government, Duncan Sandys, told Parliament, ?I am convinced that, for the well-being of our people and for the preservation of the countryside, we have a clear duty to do all we can to prevent the further unrestricted sprawl of the great.? Half a centaury later and Mr Sandy?s words still ring true.

In February, it was reported that Labour is planning, for a future Parliament. Ministers believe the population trends are so clear that the Green Belts will have to be relaxed. The strategy was hinted at in the Barker review on housing, published at the time of the chancellor's pre-budget report in November

Already, without any public debate, a number of Planning Authorities are starting to factor in Baker?s over blown housing figures. Our own Essex County Council was recently summoned to appear before the Minister to be told that our already ludicrously high housing targets were to be increased further.

There is some irony in the Government?s proposals as the new building are more likely to mean the construction of premium, luxury and executive family homes on. Greenfield land, generates the biggest profits for the housing, no amount of artificial targets imposed will make any difference on the amount of social housing built

Adding to suburban sprawl will detract from rather than help urban regeneration and Brownfield redevelopment, and fuel the migration from our towns and cities.

This return to the Bulldozer is should be seen as the act of despair rather than a well thought out policy. We must stop the interference of regional governance and ?top-down? planning and increase local accountability and local decision-making.

There has to be a greater emphasis on regenerating our towns and cities, and using previously developed Brownfield land on which to focus new development. That has the advantage of building within communities rather that over them

GAZETTE JUNE 2004




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