Thursday, 15 September 2011
It's A Developer's World
The very mention of developers building on green field sites can stir the most placid of us into rowdy protesters; that is if the green field borders your own property.
Researchers at the independent House of Commons library have discovered the UK government has no intention of preserving England's green belt from 'sustainable development' even though ministers have insisted that the framework provides clear protections for the 13% of land which is officially designated as green belt.
The report notes that the section of the framework setting out the legal presumption makes no mention of the green belt and contains only a narrow exception for sites protected by the Birds and Habitats directives.
The Daily Telegraph has launched the Hands Off Our Land campaign to urge ministers to think again.
I would like to think the campaign would have some success but it's extremely doubtful. Of course the usual 'consultations' and public meetings will be held to satisfy the legal aspects of new developments, but they are purely PR and mean nothing. Councils will bend over backwards to please developers if it means they will reach their targets for 'social housing'.
For the past couple of years I've been involved in trying to save a local field which, only 20 years ago, was again refused planning permission because it was home to one of Scotland's biggest red squirrel populations and also a large community of bats. Enter a property developer and, before we noticed, they had received planning consent for a large estate of 80+ homes. The first of these homes is now wind and water-tight and will cost an average of £270,000.
If there was a necessity for expensive homes in this rural area I doubt if many of us would have complained or fought so long and hard to keep the field, but there are two other large developments less than half a mile away and five years later they are still nowhere near completion. The prices of the properties are well above what local people can afford.
Why therefore are developers being allowed to build on green field sites when it's well known that there is no local demand for their product in the short to medium term? Theories abound here with most involving the word 'money' - speaking of which the Herald reports changes to the council planning system have left a multimillion pound black hole in council finances. What a mess.