Monday, August 17, 2009

Bristol's green belt: protected? Or disappearing under mass house building, another major road, a new football stadium and an expanded airport?

1 comment:
Many are campaigning for the green belt around Bristol to be protected and to mean something! There are various threats: many, many thousands of houses; the ring road; expanding the airport; building a new footbal stadium...Here's the response I got from Bristol City Council's Lib Dem Cabinet to two questions I recently put:

C2. Glenn Vowles to ask Jon Rogers Executive Member for Transport and Sustainability

Development on green belt land

Q1. Should large scale development be permitted on green belt land around Bristol, whether the development impinges on green belt in whole or part?

C2.Q1 Reply:
The issue of use of Green Belt is a complex one. My colleagues and I have campaigned and won in the recent election with a pledge to “fight the loss of Green Belt” and that remains our policy.

We are also considering the Multi-Area Agreement MAA at the meeting today, and you will see our heavily caveated concerns about the possible imposition of a Regional Spatial Strategy RSS, requiring development with which we would not agree. In particular, the housing targets in the draft RSS from the Secretary of State do not appear to be backed by evidence. These are concerns shared with our neighbouring authorities, and we need to be very mindful that such decisions could be taken out of our control.

We have repeatedly stated that we wish to develop urban sites and brownfield sites and avoid development on Green Belt. All developments need to be of the best sustainable design and infrastructure.

It is also important that the Bristol Development Framework BDF gets approved (which it'll only do if it articulates with the RSS) as without it, we have 12 year old development control policies which say nothing about sustainability.

Officers have asked that I point out that development on the Green Belt is guided by national, regional and local policy. Regional planning guidance sets the framework for Green Belt policy, including the direction of long term development. Government guidance set out in PPG2: Green Belts considers that once the general extent of Green Belt has been approved it should only be altered in exceptional circumstances.

The Council is producing a series of planning documents known as the Bristol Development Framework which will guide development over the next 20 years. The Core Strategy is the first of these documents and it must be in conformity with the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS). The RSS proposes urban extensions within the Green Belt to the south east and south west of Bristol to help meet the housing requirements of the sub region. These proposals include allocations of 1,500 dwellings within the City boundaries as part of the wider extensions. Therefore, the City Council has to plan for these areas in the Core Strategy.

If the requirement for urban extensions remains in the final version of the RSS then the land required to accommodate the urban extensions will be removed from the Green Belt. The specific areas of Green Belt required to accommodate the urban extensions will be identified on the proposals map accompanying the Site Allocations Development Plan Document. The remaining areas will be protected in the Core Strategy Green Belt policy from inappropriate development (as defined in Planning Policy Guidance 2: Green Belts). The acceptability of development within the Green Belt will depend on the use and form of the proposal as assessed in relation to policy.

Sounds very much like a lot of our green belt will be built over and degraded if national and regional govt get their way.

Q2. If development is permitted on green belt land should the developers plans and designs be required to compensate as much as is practically possible for all the environmental impacts they cause eg through maximising the use of green design, green technology and green schemes?

C2.Q2 Reply:
Yes. Where development in the green belt is found to be acceptable in principle, it will be required to meet the standards of the development plan. The emerging policies set out in the Core Strategy will require development to be built to high environmental standards, maximising energy efficiency and contributing to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Any negative impacts associated with development will require mitigation in accordance with policy requirements.

Its noteworthy that this second answer applies a different - and much lower - standard than the one I refer to in my question. Compensating as much as is practically possible is most certainly not what would result from meeting the standards of the development plan or Core Strategy!!