Proposals for a new Green Belt to restrict building in South Hampshire should be carefully considered to ensure they do not adversely affect growth and prosperity in the region, a leading planning expert has warned.
Robin Shepherd of planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore has said proposals presented by the Hampshire Branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) to the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) would “pull up the drawbridge” on any development around the region’s core cities and should be examined in the light of the need to create conditions for future economic growth.
Mr Shepard also believes that instead of considering a blanket ban on house building, the PUSH authorities should instead work together on long-term strategic plans for well-planned development, linked to infrastructure provision.
PUSH, a quango talking-shop with no statutory powers or functions, is made up of representatives and chief executives from 11 local authorities in the Solent/South Hampshire area – including Eastleigh. Together they consider solutions and strategies to common issues and for forward planning.
In a press release Shepard said:
“Over the years, the link between growth and development and planning has not been communicated effectively enough to communities, so they just call for a stop, and the green belt is the tool used by politicians in response to anti-development sentiment.
A better solution would be to engage and work with residents and the business community properly and prepare controlled, well-planned developments for the long term, providing the infrastructure with it, that we so desperately need. A Green Belt is a blunt instrument that restricts economic growth, and pushes growth to less sustainable locations, if not out of the area completely. I would strongly urge PUSH to look at alternatives.”
However CPRE insist that the introduction of a Green Belt would not mean a hit to local economic growth and in a statement told Eastleigh News:
“A Green Belt is not a blanket ban on house building, it is a spatial tool to ensure that development occurs in a sustainable manner. Properly done it should not restrict economic growth, but just ensure that it happens in sustainable locations. There is no reason why it should result in employers who wish to expand or move to South Hampshire to choose elsewhere.
The adoption of a Green Belt does not mean pulling up the drawbridge, but does mean planning for a significant period ahead, choosing land that can be allocated for development to support economic growth, but also choosing what green gaps should be protected.”
PUSH have agreed that their Planning Group should report back to the Joint Committee to advise whether there is any justification for considering a Green Belt across the PUSH area