LETTER PUBLISHED IN THE GLOUCESTERSHIRE ECHO 24/11/2016
GREEN BELT should be saved from housing development
I would like to comment on the excellent letter by Barry Simon (The green belt does not exist thanks to Joint Core Strategy – Nov 17th).
His letter hit the nail well and truly on the head when he referred to Swindon Village and other areas having lost its green belt, which has played an important part in protecting the local environment, and not least, keeping communities apart.
Whilst there will always be a demand for houses, there is ample developable land around that is not green belt and which should be used before the existing meagre amount of green belt is used.
We know from past press reports and the reading of council minutes, that the JCS is a strategy that covers the total areas of Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester. There must be ample areas of brown field sites in the JCS area that could have accommodated the number of houses deemed to be the right number. Yet the JCS ‘team’ proposed nine possible site locations, of which seven would be areas of green belt. And from what I can gather, there was hardly a murmur of disapproval from the local representatives on the JCS.
Statements from central government repeatedly tell us that the green belt is safe. Indeed, Government ministers state that they support the use of derelict sites, including MOD sites, yet when a government site such as Ashchurch (part of which was included in the JCS) is to be made derelict, they intervene and order its re-instatement as a site for government storage purposes.
It is clear in my mind, and Barry Simon reminded us in his letter, that “the Government would prefer to build on the green belt so as to meet housing need”, even when other sites are available.
I cannot help feeling that he is right, but I shall continue in my small way, to remind the Government ministers of their statements and what is expected of them now and in the future.