I was at a meeting with some Planners last week and we were discussing a wide range of issues – including the Green Belt.
The Green Belt was originally conceived in 1935 – 75 years ago. It has been reviewed several times, but I am told that the Nottingham Belt was set in 1950. It was forward thinking in that it was seen as being some distance from the built environment – in other words there was a massive amount of expansion space. But it seems that it is now full – or at least it is on the western side of the City. Nottingham has crept westwards towards the Motorway.
So there is now pressure on the Green Belt to loosen its grip.
There are some planning guidelines which suggest their raison d’être:
To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
To prevent neighbouring towns from 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.
They exist for good reasons.
It has taken over 50 years to hit the buffers – and towns do need to grow.
Generally I am supportive of new development – it does provide lifeblood to a place. But I am not sure that eating into the Green Belt is the answer. There are plenty of areas within our towns and Cities which need redeveloping – they need urban renewal. In some cases they already have a great location – close to the centres. The Green Belt by its very nature tends to be away from the middle – placing extra reliance on transport.
I would much rather we concentrate on infilling and rebuilding the inner cities. People living in towns helps the behaviour (people tend not to wreck where they live?). We can reduce travel to work times – and looking at aerial maps it’s easy to see some of the areas which should have priority?