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‘Open season’ on London’s protected green spaces

Tuesday, 08 March 2016 15:13

New research published today reveals huge extent of threats to Greater London’s Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land. Zac Goldsmith MP (Con), Jenny Jones (Greens), Stephen Knight (LibDem), Wes Streeting MP (Lab) and local campaign groups [5] will today help launch CPRE London’s new report The “Strongest Protection?” [1]

Over 50 protected green spaces in Greater London - 30 Green Belt and 21 Metropolitan Open Land sites - including parks, recreation grounds and sports fields are under threat from development, say London campaigners.

Alice Roberts of CPRE London said. “These are just the sites we are aware of: we think there may be twice that number out there. We also expect the number to rise even further in future as developers get wind that it’s basically open season on protected land in London.” [2]

“It’s a huge concern. This land was protected – in fact was given the ‘strongest protection’ [3] - for good reasons – to allow space for leisure and sports and to give people a little piece of the countryside in or near the city. The spaces are incredibly important for health and mental wellbeing, and because fundamentally they make the capital a human place to live and work.”

“There seem currently to be endless calls for yet more of London’s precious protected green spaces to be released for development. But our research shows that, if anything, protections need at this time to be strengthened.  As London grows – so more and more people will come to rely on these green spaces in their daily lives, whether it’s to take the dog for a walk, give the kids out a runabout, play some football, whatever. [4]

“We need politicians to stop just saying that they want to protect Green Belt - we want their commitment to extend to Metropolitan Open Land - and for their commitments to be carried through. Too often planning permissions are being granted regardless of the political commitments being made. “Very clear signals are needed from the new Mayor of London – to say ‘There will be no building on Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land on my watch’ – to halt the spiralling number of applications coming forward.”   Notes to editors

1) CPRE London launches its report The “Strongest Protection?” Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land in London: the real story today. From 9.3.16 see . CPRE London’s full manifesto What we want to hear from the new Mayor of London was published last week and can be found here

2) Chapter 6 (Page 12) of the report shows a huge leap in planning permissions on protected land in 2013/14 (from 4 to 15). CPRE London knows of 51 sites currently threatened with development (see page 13 of the report and also our map at Page 22 of the report explains why the permitting of development on protected land creates the wrong signals and leads to a spiralling problem: “When land protections are not adhered to, landowners see that previously valueless land might now be sold with planning permission at a higher price; developers see prime plots of land…”

3) Chapters 2 and 3 (see in particular pages 6 and 8 of the report) show that both the Government and Mayor of London give very strong support to protected land policies in the National Planning Policy Framework and the London Plan.

4) Most recently, in the Evening Standard this week - CPRE and the London Green Belt Council both wrote to the Editor to explain why allowing building on green belt will simply allow developers to cherry pick the best sites, leave swathes of brownfield land lying idle and do nothing to provide affordable housing

5) Contacts and quotes from local campaign groups

Chris Nutt from Save Oakfield Site said, “Oakfield playing fields are in constant use by people of all ages and backgrounds: we represent the cohesive and active community that politicians want. We are staggered at Redbridge Council’s plans to sell it off for development. There is no gain for the local community whatever. And the proposals don’t include affordable homes. There is no need to build on this piece of Green Belt in Redbridge. The council can allocate land for housing in Ilford Town Centre or on brownfield sites.”               01621 781035     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Caroline Donnelly in Hillingdon said, “We are fighting back against a potential development threat to our green, open space in Hayes End known locally as Hayes Park. It was recently put up for sale for £5 million. There have been numerous attempts to develop the site in the past, but the local community has stood up and protested. We are really concerned that, with the recent shift in government policy regarding Green Belt land protections, we will have a much bigger fight on our hands this time around.”   07976 729471    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Balvinder Dhillon from Keep Osterley Green said, “The proposal to put a free school on the White Lodge site in Hounslow is bewildering. The site is not designated for education use and it is not shortlisted in the Local Plan site allocations. The lawful use of the site is for sports and recreation. Furthermore there are many suitable brownfield alternatives readily available. Even though it is manifestly obvious this is an inappropriate site for so many reasons, with other suitable alternatives available, this has not stopped the Education Funding Agency purchasing the land with substantial taxpayers' money and we are astounded that the council and the Mayor of London have now permitted the development. They seem to treat this finite resource with disdain, with current plans allowing a number of the borough's new free schools to be built on Metropolitan Open Land.”                     07711 057015   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

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