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13.07.15

Green belt land is meant to stop urban sprawl

I have read your article and hope you can help. We live in Staffordshire Moorlands in Blythe Bridge and Forsbrook Parish. Staffordshire Moorlands District Council have proposed sites on green belt land for housing development and we are in the consultation period at present.

There is an action group and information is online but many residents are unaware of these proposals as the council still have not informed households. We will attend a drop-in session at the local village hall and have letters of objection.

We live in a quiet area with seven character houses on an unadopted road which frontages maintain, which leads into agricultural green belt land, mature woodland and a public footpath runs along the unadopted track. We have a variety of wildlife, invertebrates, birds including owls, and bat colonies. The land is a natural habitat for many species although not an SSI site. The proposed housing will be devastating and I wonder if you can help us in any way to stop this development. Green belt land is meant to stop urban sprawl. The openness and character of this area would be devastated if such development takes place.

Re: The importance of protecting green belt land

The full objection is below

Objection to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council regarding the Site Options and Development Boundaries, Local Plan 2015

I have been very saddened that our district council is even contemplating sacrificing green belt land for proposed housing development. I have read many articles, from government policies to local plans, and cannot believe how much of our green belt land is being used for housing development. Proposals are in direct contravention of numerous government policies and guidelines concerning greenbelt development.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England states that Green Belt is one of our most valued planning tools, yet it is under a level of threat unprecedented in recent times. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF, March 2012) stated clearly that the Government attached great importance to the Green Belt and that it will seek to maintain existing levels of protection. Brownfield sites must be looked at as a viable option.

The situation I and many residents find ourselves in is objecting to (and trying to make sure that the parish and local residents are fully aware of) the implications. Our local library has been given all documentation for viewing from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) but when I went to check on the plans, the librarian had to go in a back room to find the box given to them. I viewed the plans then found a letter from SMDC asking for the poster with the drop-in consultation sessions itemised to be displayed. I asked the librarian about it politely and was shot down. “I decide what goes up in this library.”

I was shocked by the response and said I thought it was very important because it was developing green belt land and open space in the community. These are the problems we are facing when people are uninformed. Surely a display could be sensitively put up seeing that it is a public amenity.

We have an action group and are at present still informing householders about the importance of responses to SMDC, making sure that residents are aware of parish council meetings and consultation sessions.

Biodiversity and conservation is an extremely important issue. The Green Belt in question off our unadopted road, which is also a public footpath, contains to the south a mature woodland with TPOs, mature hedgerows and both long and short grassland, which over the years has been maintained by cutting but not to the boundaries by the land owner. This has preserved natural habitats and ecosystems. There is a diversity of wildlife and invertebrates but no surveys have taken place. There are areas of wetland which could who knows have newts etc. which are protected. We have a healthy environment where artificial light is kept to a minimum. There are bat colonies in the wood and nests in the character buildings so any development would affect their flight paths and roosting sites. Habitat connectivity would also be a major issue for all wildlife pre, during and post development. The fact of clearing vegetation would impact immediately. Buzzards, owls and sparrow hawks frequent the fields. The area we live in is quiet and a haven for all wildlife; any development would be intrusive on the Green Belt and completely change the openness that Green Belt affords.

Infrastructure is another massive problem. The adjoining road only has partial pavements and surface water flooding is an ongoing issue at the junction nearby. Site lines from our unadopted road are poor and planning permission for one low level building to be used as a stable was refused due to poor site lines and extra traffic in 1997. The proposed Development Plan is for 27 houses minimum, so with possibly two cars per household, that means with existing cars from the seven properties on the road, there could be 74 vehicles using the junction and road. It is ridiculous and the council needs to seriously consider this issue and remove these sites from their plan.

I could go on and on but I would be interested if anyone has encountered similar problems. I would love to know if anyone has been successful in persuading their council to develop on brownfield sites rather than Green Belt.

Brenda Hewitt, Blythe Bridge

Comments

Cllr Sue Prochak   13/07/2015 at 16:17

I guess you're not alone. Here in the village of Robertsbridge 155 new homes have been imposed on us. Inevitably this means green field development and we are in an AONB! The only way forward it seems is to get a Neighbourhood Plan for your parish. This is a method of allowing residents to have their say and select the least worst result. However, it's time consuming and means that an eager developer could jump in before its completion.

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