Green Belt Policy was established in 1955 primarily to stop urban sprawl and to permanently protect belts of open land.
It serves 5 purposes:
- to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built up areas
- to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another
- to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
- to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
- to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land
The Green Belt is positive planning, and protects countryside which is nearby for 30 million people. The protection gives us 29,000 kilometres of public rights of way, woodlands and nature reserves.
Green Belt land is a scarce resource and it is afforded protection by the National Planning Policy Framework –Chapter 13.
Two thirds of all green belt land is in agricultural use, and this is a vital economic resource for food security and soil protection. This has to be of high environmental value when global population growth and climate change are putting increasing pressure on land, at a time when we grow less than two thirds of our own food.
Now more than ever we need to avoid unnecessarily losing our countryside.
The solution is the redevelopment of brownfield sites, which should have greater focus in decision making. The Campaign to Protect Rural England reports that there are enough brownfield sites to accommodate at least 1 million homes. Amber Valley Borough Council has not completed a brownfield survey which should have been the first step. A core planning principle is to ‘encourage the effective use of land by reusing land that has previously been developed. Most of this land is in urban areas close to jobs, roads and amenities.
The revised National Planning Policy Framework states that the exceptional circumstances needed to change Green Belt boundaries can only arise once Councils have considered all other options, including using brownfield sites, these considerations have not happened.
I specifically want to talk about the recommendation to delete land from the Green Belt on Far Laund in Belper, which is in my ward, Belper East.
The proposal would result in unrestricted development in the open countryside and would undoubtedly narrow the gap between Belper and Heage which both have individual and special characters. This site is currently in agricultural use.
The suggestion that the site is readily accessible to local services is farcical. It is half a mile to the nearest shop, a mile to the nearest secondary school and one and a half miles to medical centres, dentists etc. 345 houses on this site where it is so far from services would have a considerable impact on traffic issues.
The site includes Coppice Brook, which rises in Ripley, flowing under the A38 highway into the Far Laund area of Belper, and then to the Parks. The brook originates from spring water and surface rain water, the underlying rock being millstone grit. The water flows out of the Parks and follows a course along the back of Brookside before entering culverts under the main Derby to Sheffield railway line and the A6 roadway, before emptying into the River Derwent.
This brook should be protected and enhanced through active management rather than built around. It is an amazing natural brook where water voles have been recorded recently, and there are also records of sticklebacks further upstream.
The site also has numerous footpaths crossing through, which are regularly used, and connects Far Laund with Whitemoor.
The Green Belt is our countryside next door, its fresh air and open spaces make it fundamental to our physical health and mental well being. Swallowing up farm land and wildlife habitats increases pollution, flood risk and car dependency.
I voted in Full Council on 4th March, against the proposed amendments to the existing Green Belt boundary to delete any land from the Green Belt, as did all my Labour colleagues.
We are now in a six week consultation period regarding the Local Plan. It is crucial that everyone who wants to protect our Green Belt, uses this opportunity to object.
The proposed changes to the Submission Local Plan have been published for public consultation until 4:30pm on Tuesday 30 April 2019. You can find all of the documents on the AVBC website.
You can lodge objections through the consultation form HERE
By Fay Atkinson
Belper East Labour Councillor
Amber Valley Borough Council