Save the Green Belt

Come to an open meeting to discuss the threat of housing development on the Green Belt and how we can challenge it. All welcome.

The Meeting Room, Toby Carvery, Redstone Hill, Redhill
RH1 4BL (Map)
8pm on Monday 21 January

Download a printable flyer for the meeting here

Many people across Redhill and Reigate are alarmed by the threat of a new flood of house-building on the Green Belt.

The Council’s new Core Strategy, which is out for consultation before being submitted to the government Inspector for approval, allows for the building of 1400 homes on Green Belt:

  • 700 to the East of Redhill,
  • and 700 to the South West of Reigate.

200 homes on greenfield sites around Horley are also envisaged.

So what’s going on?

Every local authority has to have a Core Strategy, setting out what development it would like to see, and where. This is so developers know what they can apply for, and it gives the Council back-up for its decisions on planning applications.

Reigate & Banstead Borough Council doesn’t have an up-to-date Core Strategy, and the current Government has made a lot of changes in planning law. So we need a new one.

The Government demands that, as part of a new plan, the authority says what its annual house-building target is, and identifies some large areas where some of those houses could be built. These numbers and areas have to be ‘reasonable’ or the Government won’t accept the plan.

If the Government doesn’t accept the plan, we’re in serious trouble. Developers will be able to propose almost anything, and the Council won’t have the legal back-up to resist them.

So the Council’s planning officers have had to come up with what they think is a credible plan, that the Government will accept.

This has been difficult to do, to say the least.

The annual housing figure they have come up with is 460. That is based on the number we were obliged to provide in the ‘South East Plan’ – a now defunct project of the previous Government.  The Council officers feel that going much below this target would mean the Government will not accept the Core Strategy.

The Core Strategy wants to see new housing built inside the existing towns and villages first. But it says that these ‘urban areas’ will not be able to accommodate all the planned housing, so they need to build ‘sustainable urban extensions’.

And after excluding all the areas that are not suitable because they are part of the ‘Area of Outstanding Beauty’, prone to flooding, too far from facilities such as public transport and doctor’s surgeries, or other reasons, they conclude that the two areas to build on are east of Redhill and south west of Reigate – both in the Green Belt. You can read about the methodology and reason for these choices here.

Hands off the Green Belt

We are deeply concerned about plans to build on the Green Belt.

Green Belt serves several vital purposes. It stops urban sprawl – stopping our Borough becoming just another suburb of London. It provides  space for recreation and for wildlife. And it ensures there is land around big cities to provide the food and other amenities they need.

The Green Belt has done a fantastic job of preserving the character of our towns, villages and countryside, and it should be off limits for development in the same way the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is.

A national problem

We stress this is no criticism of our Council officers. They are caught between a rock and a hard place. The problem is created by national, not local, government and we need to join together with other areas to fight it.

The Government has put ours and other Councils in a very difficult position. The South East is already overcrowded, and needs the Green Belt to be protected. Meanwhile, other parts of the country are badly in need of regeneration.

Locally, we need affordable places for our young people and key workers to live in. That means urban regeneration, bringing empty homes back in to use, and redeveloping appropriate brownfield sites. It does not mean big estates on the edge of our towns.

And that will be England gone,
The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,
The guildhalls, the carved choirs.
There’ll be books; it will linger on
In galleries; but all that remains
For us will be concrete and tyres.
Philip Larkin

Find out more and have your say:

The consultation closes on 4 February 2013.

  • Come and discuss the issues at an Open Meeting hosted by Reigate and Banstead Green Party, at 8pm on Monday 21 January, in the meeting room at Toby Carvery, Redstone Hill, Redhill, RH1 4BL (2 minutes from Redhill station. Map)

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One Comment

  1. Alistair Morten
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Well done publicising, organising and chairing the Reigate & Banstead Green Party Open Meeting on Monday-21st-January, regarding the possible plans to build on local green belt land.

    I was heartened by both the number of attendees and the degree of interest this subject engendered. Furthermore, I was impressed by the clarity and objectivity Councillors Essex and Finch displayed, during some impassioned dialogue, in demonstrating the work the local Green Party is doing concerning planning proposals in the Borough.

    Thank you for showing local Residents a coherent Green Party plan of activity and for making clear the political links between this local planning issue and discussions about sustainable development at a national scale.

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