Tuesday, 17 November 2015

CPRE Hampshire launches new campaign for South Hampshire Green Belt

Ahead of the devolution negotiation due to be held in London next Tuesday, and 65 years after the concept was first mooted, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (Hampshire) is calling on the county’s Leaders to forge ahead with a new Green Belt for South Hampshire.¹

As it stands, the devolution plans contain a proposal to increase housing delivery but with the reassurance of a Green Belt option. The campaigners want this to stay and for local authority leaders to gain the Government’s commitment to Green Belt on behalf of the public.

A detailed briefing paper² has been prepared which has been sent to all 15 of Hampshire’s Council Leaders and their Chief Executives and is available from the charity’s website www.cprehampshire.org.uk. It includes maps over the period from 1965 to date.

CPRE Hampshire’s Chairman, Dee Haas said: “South Hampshire would benefit greatly from a new Green Belt which would create a more cohesive structure for the big cities while allowing them to grow and develop in a sustainable manner. The Devolution proposals of 2015 now give Hampshire authorities a chance to revisit the plans of some 65 years ago and commit to a Green Belt designed to meet its five basic purposes³, all of which accord with the South Hampshire Strategy of today.”

Dee Haas, Chairman, 
CPRE Hampshire.

Green Belts are large areas of land recognised as needing to be kept free of major housing development. These areas help to protect towns and cities, preventing them sprawling into the countryside.  Green Belts in other areas of the UK are much valued by local people, as formally designated land, promoting urban identity and helping to save the countryside.

Nationally, CPRE is campaigning for a strong Government commitment to uphold existing policy and carry out an urgent review of the latest threats to the Green Belt. On the 60th anniversary of Green Belt becoming government policy, a poll commissioned by CPRE shows clear support for Green Belt.

Notes to editors

1.           Green Belt in Hampshire

Hampshire has almost no Green Belt, apart from around the Avon Valley and New Milton. However, it ‘nearly’ had a substantial Green Belt around the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton on a number of occasions.

Latterly the county had Strategic Gaps which were the alternatives offered by government, but they lost their policy status with the demise of the South East Plan. Now, there is renewed interest in a Green Belt designated around the cities and protecting the rural hinterland of South Hampshire.

In South Hampshire in the 1950s, Bournemouth, Poole, Southampton and Portsmouth were looking for geographic restraints. By 1957 a Hampshire Coast Green Belt was proposed extending from Totton and Chandlers Ford through to Hayling Island in the east.  It touched the southern tip of Winchester, and was some ten miles deep along the whole of the Hampshire coast. CPRE was represented at the Green Belt Public Inquiry held at Winchester in June 1959.

The principle of a Hampshire Coastal Green Belt was at that time accepted by government but mysteriously never happened.  A South West Hampshire Green Belt was eventually approved just around Bournemouth, and in 2006 it was re-designated as part of the New Forest National Park.

The then Leader of Hampshire County Council, Ken Thornber supported the proposal for a Hampshire Green Belt which he said would “I believe go further than the strategic gaps in providing long term security and protection for the individual character of our Cities, Towns, Villages and Countryside.”

2.            The briefing paper. A full copy of the briefing paper is available on request from 07876 780065 or kburney@compege.co.uk.

3.            Current Government policy on Green Belts is clearly set out in Planning Policy Guidance and their five basic purposes are to:

-              Check unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas

-              Prevent neighbouring towns from merging with one another
-              Assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
-              Preserve the setting and special character of historic towns, and
-              Assist with urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

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