Rural protection group argues for county green belt

QUESTIONS are being raised by an environmental organisation over the effectiveness of strategic gaps to protect rural land.

Friday, 18th January 2019, 3:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:53 pm

As part of the ongoing campaign to adopt a Green Belt in South Hampshire CPRE Hampshire have released a report questioning the worth of the ‘strategic gaps’ used to protect areas of land in South Hampshire which are currently used to protect areas of green space and stop urban sprawl.

CPRE chief executive Charlee Bennett said: ‘It has been previously argued by local authorities in South Hampshire that the gaps provided adequate safeguards.said: ‘It has been previously argued by local authorities in South Hampshire that the gaps provided adequate safeguards.

‘However, the report has highlighted the vulnerability of these areas as the ‘gap’ status seems to offer limited protection, citing many examples within South Hampshire when the development has gone ahead in these areas, nibbling away at the gaps, with some now being only metres wide.

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‘These green spaces are so vital to the health and wellbeing of our residents and the only way to properly ensure we can protect our precious countryside within law is by the adoption of a Green Belt.’

The report concluded that a strong case could be made for this area of South Hampshire meeting the ‘exceptional circumstances’ required when looking to adopt a Green Belt.

This report has been shared with member of the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) committee, made up of council leaders and decision makers who will have ultimate say in whether we would take the next steps in designating areas of South Hampshire as Green Belt.

CPRE Hampshire attended the meeting of the PUSH Committee in December last year to make the case for the Green Belt and hand in a petition with over 13,500 signatures from local people in favour of the South Hampshire Green Belt.

Leader of Fareham Borough Council and a member of PUSH, Councillor Sean Woodward said: ‘I would love to have a Green Belt in Hampshire and I agree that Strategic Gaps don’t work.

‘I would love to see this resolved in the next one to two years and it is something that we are working towards at the moment.’

Ms Bennett added: ‘This report has given us a real boost and additional evidence for our campaign for a South Hampshire Green Belt.

‘Gaps are not working to protect these vital green spaces and if we are genuinely committed to the health and wellbeing of South Hampshire’s residents, we need more effective measures to ensure their preservation.’