Thu. Jul 25th, 2024
alert-–-britain’s-new-nimby-flashpoints:-the-residents-preparing-to-wage-war-against-labour’s-housing-land-grab-over-fears-race-to-build-1.5m-homes-on-green-belt-threatens-their-nature-reserves,-parks-and-picturesque-countryside-viewAlert – Britain’s new Nimby flashpoints: The residents preparing to wage war against Labour’s housing land grab over fears race to build 1.5m homes on green belt threatens their nature reserves, parks and picturesque countryside view

Homeowners across Britain have raised fears over Labour’s planning reforms which are set to make it easier to build houses on parts of the green belt.

Chancellor Rachel Reeves, who revealed the plans on Monday, is hoping to turbocharge property construction on less desirable areas of the countryside.

But the Government is now facing significant opposition from so-called Nimbys, or ‘not in my back yard’ – a term for people who oppose new developments.

Labour claimed environmental fears cannot be allowed to block all developments, with Ms Reeves saying ‘we must acknowledge that trade-offs always exist.’

In the year to March, about 135,000 homes started being constructed, a drop of more than one-fifth on the year before. And Britain has not built 300,000 new homes a year, the amount needed to hit the 1.5million target, since the 1950s.

But many Britons spoken to this week revealed their concerns over the impact of building on fields surrounding their homes. Here is what they had to say:

Sutton Coldfield: 6,000-home development on the way

At the Langley development site near Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, residents have blasted a new 6,000-home development just yards from their doorstep.

Locals living along Springfield Road and Springfield Cresent say they have debated moving house thanks to the development, which many say will ruin the picturesque view.

Untouched farmers’ fields located along Springfield Road, Ox Leys Road and the busy A38 are the areas earmarked for the new housing site, which is set to include three new schools.

Lisa Baughan is moving out of the area in a few months after selling her property along Springfield Cresent.

The 55-year-old has lived on the street for 20 years and initially protested against the looming building works.

Ms Baughan said: ‘It’s been going on for a long time and we moved here when the fields were here and actually we prefer it like that.

‘My father passed away and that’s why we’re moving but we might have stayed. My daughter is older now so it doesn’t concern us but it used to because of all the traffic going into Walmley.

‘The traffic is already horrendous down there. There’s no schools up there but they’re going to be building schools up there. It’s going to be hard. We did do the consultation and we didn’t want it to go ahead.

‘Down the bottom you’ve got Lindridge Road and they’ve built there too. It is a real concern that Labour could build on all of these areas.

‘They’ve built a new housing estate nearby too. It’s completely separate. There’s all these fields around here, they can build anywhere. I mean it doesn’t matter if Labour and Conservatives are coming in, there’s just so many people now you have to put them somewhere.

‘The population is massive. You’d think the schools would be all full, but actually the schools are quite in low population this year.’

Langley Sutton Coldfield Consortium had represented the five building firms which make up a 93 per cent stake in the site. They are Homes England, Taylor Wimpey UK Ltd, Vistry Homes Ltd, William Davis Ltd and Bellway Homes.

However, the consortium dissolved in February, according to Companies House records. 

Grandmother-of-two Eve Smith said she is considering selling off her house on Stephens Road due to concerns about the building work.

The 74-year-old is considering downsizing to Solihull to escape the works.

Ms Smith said: ‘It’s ridiculous isn’t it, traffic is horrific anyway. A five-minute drive to Walmley can take 30 minutes. I’ve gone out at the wrong time before and hit the school traffic.

‘It’s a lovely view, it’s a shame. We need a bit of greenery but Keir’s going to need it for all of the immigrants that’s he’s going to allow. It was nice to look at it. I’ve been here 20 years and it’s changed. I’m thinking of moving myself now.

‘I know they’re building down the far end of the field towards the main road, but how that will affect us, I don’t know. It’s the amazing the amount of space there is, you don’t need all that space. I bought my first home at 19 in 1969.

‘I really don’t know anymore, I’ve given up on politics. I’m very disappointed that Labour got in.’

Former lorry driver Tony Smith said he was against the development and was living in the area before the last lot of houses were built.

The 78-year-old, originally from Anglesey. said: ‘I lived here before the other houses were built, I lived on a farm up the road from here.

‘I’m against it. The population is getting bigger but what I don’t agree with is if you go down the road and turn right, they’ve started building houses there, too.

‘I think it’s all over. We’ve still only got one hospital, a certain amount of beds in the wards and the same amount of water. All these people, where are they going to go.

‘They’re planning to build all the way up to Tamworth Road. I don’t think Labour could expand it anymore.’

Donald McCann’s property faces the development site along Springfield Road.

The 76-year-old has lived in the area for over 40 years and said he was originally assured that the fields would stay untouched.

Now the pensioner says they’ve been left in the dark after eight years of planning.

Mr McCann, who worked in the building trade, said: ‘I’m against it. It’s the type of houses they want to build too. Years ago at the consultation they said there would be some affordable housing. Now my understanding that the council put a stop to it and said they want to control what’s there and decided to pull out.

‘Now it’s private contractors where the firms can set their own price. This started in 2016 and now it’s 2024.

‘I voted Labour but it depends what they build. My understanding with Labour is that they need to have so many affordable housing, but that many people can’t afford four or five bedroom houses. And that many can’t fit on that land.

‘I think Labour should look at it again and find a common sense approach to it. It’s 6,000 units and they reckon it’ll last 21 or 22 years. I think that’s rubbish. It is a waste of the land. All we need is for common sense to prevail.

‘It is a lot of homes, 6,000 plus. It goes beyond the main road. There’s going to be three schools and loads of buses. Where were they all go. Just imagine all those extra cars around here. They said they’d sort the roads out after, but you can’t do that.

‘Labour are going to be in for a shock, a massive shock.’

Not everyone was against the housing site. Former machine tool maker Michael Jennings said that building more homes will be beneficial for the younger generation trying to get on the property ladder.

The 64-year-old uses the fields to walk his dog Bruce but said it was essential to build new affordable housing.

Mr Jennings said: ‘We need more houses, cheaper houses for the youngsters, I doubt that they will be that cheap. Where else can we put them? These little villages don’t want an extension to their village, but what’s the alternative.

‘My daughter is trying to get a house but she can’t do it. She’s 28 and she can’t get out.’

On Labour building more homes, he added: ‘It’s going to create work. I’m a Tory but let’s see how these get on because they shot themselves in the foot. If these do alright then I’ll vote Labour.

‘It’s not the best solution but we need houses. The trouble is we need infrastructure, doctors and schools, so it’s a big project. Where are they going to get the money from? They say they aren’t going to put the taxes up. It could be up and down like a yoyo.

‘We need more houses, affordable housing for the youngsters. It’s no good building houses for £300,000 or £400,000. What’s the point? There’s no point. The developers are going to make money.’

Newcastle – Scenic green belt outside village is threatened 

Residents of a village which sits on the edge of a scenic green belt in the North East have spoken of their fear it will be bulldozed under Labour’s new housing policy.

The open fields close to Hazelrigg, a village north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, are teeming with wildlife including deer and red squirrels.

Locals worry the Government’s aim to build 1.5million properties in five years while relaxing restrictions on developing green belt areas could see the land and the animals destroyed.

They also believe there is a lack of infrastructure to support an influx of families.

In February 2023, Newcastle City Council approved plans for new estate called Kingston Village, which will be built on fields close to Hazelrigg.

Residents now worry the Labour initiative to bring back mandatory housebuilding targets will further encroach on their area.

They also fear local beauty spot Big Waters Nature Reserve will disappear if the plans go ahead.

Mark Lindsey, 50, moved to Hazelrigg ten years ago and has seen the open spaces around the village slowly disappear to make way for new build estates.

The regional manager has slammed Labour’s new policy and claims it won’t help the housing crisis but will decimate nature in the process.

He said: ‘Building on the land round here will not solve the problem. I am in favour of creating affordable housing for first time buyers.

‘I would like to see run-down housing that is not fit for purpose ripped down and replaced. But, it won’t be. They plan to build new estates on green belt land.

‘My concern is that there will be no affordable housing. Homes around here start from £250,000. The land will be sold off at a high price. The homes won’t be cheap.

‘We moved here ten years ago and we have seen estates being built around the village.

‘There are already fewer places for kids to go and play football, for people to walk their dogs. Homes seem to be sprouting up everywhere.

‘You walk through nearby Havannah Nature Reserve and there’s fencing up now and it’s all disappearing.

‘The grass in the area is all overgrown and looks unkept and a mess because they are trying to ‘help the bees’. But it’s because they have dug up all the green belts and are trying to offset it.’

Amanda Yates, 61, a retired primary school teacher, added: ‘I do think it’s an awful shame to build on the green belts.

‘It flabbergasts me when Labour say that all these people need homes. Where are all these homeless people? Are they all wandering around on the streets?

‘Labour may as well say, here’s a bunch of ice cream and sweeties. Talk is cheap. They would promise anything.

‘There’s a nature park nearby. We went to a meeting with our local MP to object to another new build because there was an endangered type of frog living on the site. We should try and keep these green spaces.

‘I moved here because I had a three-year-old and there were good schools and a park, but that was taken away when they built another new estate years ago.

‘There has been opposition to new developments since the 60’s.

‘I used to work in a local primary school and the headmaster would say we had all these new children but no new classrooms. There’s been no more doctors, dentists or infrastructure to support any of the extra housing.’

Chancellor Rachel Reeves has vowed to dramatically overhaul the ‘timid’ planning system in a bid to prevent housing developments from being blocked.

Before MPs break for the summer, councils will be issued with mandatory targets to clear the way for hundreds of thousands of new houses.

When built, nearby Kingston Village will feature 900 homes, shops and a school.

And residents fear the estates will continue to multiply on surrounding green belts under the new policy.

Steven Taylor, 46, the owner of TaylorMade bathroom and kitchen fitters, of Ashington, said: ‘The work to build on green spaces had already started under the Conservatives and Labour have piggybacked onto it.

‘They’re going to rush it all through. There are red squirrels in the fields but that doesn’t stop them. You would think the squirrels being there would make a difference.

‘It doesn’t matter if anyone objects to it, it’s going to happen anyway. Nothing is going to change. The locals campaigned against the other estates being built, but it was a waste of time. Every bit of grass that you find will be gone, unfortunately.’

Diane Airey, 57, a cleaner, said: ‘We do need more houses but it’s a shame they will be built on the green belt. There are other areas that they could build on like discarded industrial sites.

‘There is a lot of wildlife in those fields. I was driving the other day and there was a baby deer running in the road and it was scared.

‘I would be sad to see all those fields go to make room for new homes. I would worry about the lack of infrastructure such as schools and doctors. It’s bad enough trying to get an appointment now.

‘There’s a big nature reserve which is a nice walk. It would be a shame if it was all destroyed or impacted because of the scheme.’

Banks Property, the developers building Kingston Village, have been contacted for comment.

Bristol – Fears over whether houses could be built on fields

Residents of a Bristol suburb have said they are ‘gutted’ and ‘so upset’ at Government plans to start building on green belt land to meet housing targets.

Garry Jones, 68, lives on Elsbert Drive – next to a field in Bishopsworth, South Bristol which was previously earmarked by the city council as a development site.

When asked about the new Government’s plans, the retiree said: ‘Well it’s very worrying – we don’t want it. We bought the house because of that field, like most people up here – for the solitude and all the rest of it.

‘We’ve lived here for 14 years now – it’s one of them things though, we’ve discussed ‘do you sell the house now while the price is right’, or do you just wait and see if the building does actually happen? It’s a catch-22.’

In Bristol City Council’s draft Local Plan, released in October 2023, the city’s greenbelt boundaries were ‘revised to reflect exceptional circumstances’.

On the green belt site behind Elsbert Drive, which spans partially into North Somerset, a development of 150 new houses was earmarked which led to widespread local protest.

Mary Regan, 87, has lived on the road for over 40 years. She said: ‘I wrote a letter to the council years ago with my concerns.

‘One issue is that there are two public walking paths across the field and the field is used continually by animals – at the end of the letter, I remember saying that those footpaths and the animals and the wildlife are things that very few people in Bristol have access to.

‘Therefore, I’d say they are cutting their noses to spite their face if they start changing regulations on a field like that – and I’m not a Labour party person, but I have some regard for Keir Starmer, and I hope he wouldn’t do that.’

Most residents on the street highlighted the green belt area being home to species including bats, owls and buzzards – as well as being a popular walking route.

Nicholas Mitchard, 42, said: ‘Ever since we’ve lived here, there are owls in the night time – there are falcons and buzzards out daily, bats everywhere, schools of birds flying around – the fact they want to build houses there it’s like, ‘well what about all of that?’

He also expressed concerns about a lack of suitable infrastructure in the area, and added: ‘They want to build all those houses here but there’s no infrastructure for it – our schools are already so busy, as are the roads, and we can never get doctor’s appointments at our local doctors.

‘It’s just worrying – the fact you can buy a house for the very reason of having that greenspace and nice view behind the house, and no one tells you that that land isn’t safe.’

A neighbour further down the street, Alison Beacham, 61, moved to the area two months ago and said she would be ‘gutted’ if the field was built on.

The office clerk said: ‘It’s such a lovely view to look out on, there are horses on the field – it was definitely one of the factors that sold me on this house.’

When asked about the Government’s housing plans, Ms Beacham said: ‘Yeah it does concern me, definitely and I know most people on this road feel the same. I’d be gutted.’

Lex Morley, 66, added: ‘We moved here for the views – we don’t want to look out the window and just see a big block of houses in the back.

‘They can’t justify building on these fields – they’re used by walkers, dog walkers, they’re home to the horses and birds and so many different plant species.

‘There are far and few meadows left in the country as it is, so there’s just no justification to ripping them up.’

When asked about the plans announced by Chancellor Rachel Reeves on Monday, Mr Morley said: ‘[The Government] are very carte blanche – they’ll just build anywhere. It’s a big concern. We’ve got a nice view over the back there – we don’t want that taken from us.’

Similarly, Rose West, 71, said she would be ‘so upset’ if the land was built on.

She said: ‘It’s very difficult because it seems selfish really because people need homes, don’t they. It’s a very tricky one but we would be so upset if the building happened.

‘The reason we moved here is because we wanted to be on the outside of Bristol. There are a lot of other areas that are within catchment areas where it just wouldn’t make any difference if they were built on.

‘We specifically moved here so we could have a nice view and be out of the city.’

Bristol City Council has been contacted for comment.

London – Garage is part of green belt site, say Labour

Residents living next door to a green belt area in North London earmarked by the new Labour government for new housing have spoken out against the plans.

The locals in Tottenham Hale argue that it would lower the value of their homes and ruin the area’s ‘unique’ green credentials.

A disused petrol station – sandwiched between a garage at the foot of a modern tower block and a nature reserve – has been cited by the new government as an example of a green belt site that cannot currently be developed on due to its green belt designation.

The former petrol station is currently being used as a storage area for building supplies.

However, residents living in Navigation Point – a tall building of modern flats – worry new-build homes would ruin their views of the nature reserve and even depreciate the value of their homes.

Xavier Rasschaert bought his flat under a year ago partly for its proximity to green space and views of the adjacent nature reserve The Paddock.

But the 34-year-old software engineer worries the value of his flat could plummet if its selling points are obstructed.

‘I live on the 15th floor,’ Mr Rasschaert explained. ‘When I walk onto the balcony I see the nature reserve behind the petrol station. I would be annoyed if houses were built there.

‘I bought the place recently with the idea that I would have the view. It’s not good for the value of the property, either. That’s my selfish reason. The view is really nice, to see all of the reservoirs and the nature.

‘If they built in front of the balcony, the value of the flats would depreciate. It would be a shame. It’s a really nice area in general. I have a lot of friends who come to the wetlands. It’s a very unique place in London.

‘I don’t know anywhere like this, with the animals and nature. If they want to build flats there are other areas they could look at – other disused sites. Why would they destroy a green area?’

Mr Rasschaert and other local residents added that Haringey Council have recently spent a large amount of money removing invasive Japanese Knotweed from The Paddock.

Residents would therefore consider it ‘counterintuitive’ if the reserve was at all reduced to make way for new houses.

‘They’ve just invested a lot of money in getting rid of the Japanese Knotweed in The Paddock,’ Mr Rasschaert continued. ‘It would seem like a waste of money if they got rid of the park area.’

Eric, another local resident, pointed out that there is already plenty of houses in the area – though too few amenities such as schools and shops to accommodate all the new residents.

‘Schools are more needed than houses here,’ the 30-year-old finance worker, who has lived in the area for two years, said.

‘We’ve got The Paddock just behind. They’re encouraging wildlife to come back to the area. It would seem counter-intuitive, spending money on a nature reserve and then building houses on it.

‘Also, if the Japanese Knotweed were to come back it could invade the houses. If I was a homeowner and I found that out, I wouldn’t be best pleased.

‘I am sure depreciation of value would be an argument if a high-rise went up, but I don’t think they would build one across the road from two-storey houses.

‘I get the need to build more housing, but I think for the size of the site and its proximity to a nature reserve… it’s counter intuitive to build a couple of houses here.’

Adi Zaum, a 30-year-old who also owns a flat looking out on the potential new housing site, equally worries about a potential depreciation in value if her view were to be disrupted.

However, the tech worker said she had heard any new builds would be restricted in terms of how tall they could be.

‘My house overlooks The Paddock and the disused petrol station,’ she said. ‘I would love for something to move there, but one of the things that made me move here was the view.

‘My view would be blocked by a tower block there. I think they have the possibility to build up to one floor up. I love my place; I love waking up in the morning and seeing green and not having a building in front of my face.

‘The whole purpose of a green belt is to keep sustainability. If you build here, where’s the greenery in London?’

Ms Zaum also agreed that more local amenities were already needed in the area.

‘There’s lots of housing around already,’ she said. ‘It would be great to have more amenities around, local cafes and stuff for residents.

‘I can assure you that everyone facing east will be against it – especially because it’s such a small space.’

Staff at the garage next door to the site did not want to comment on the potential of houses being built next door.

has contacted Haringey Council for comment.

Oxfordshire – Green belt could be lost amid high demand

Residents of smart Heyford Park in Oxfordshire expressed mixed emotions regarding the speculation that a large number of new homes will be built in the green belt area.

The green belt area just outside Bicester is part of a series of zones cited by Cherwell District Council as being potential areas for development.

Up to 1,235 homes could be built in the area to help meet soaring demand for homes in Oxford and the surrounding towns.

Sally Selby, a 66-year-old retired personal assistant who lives in Heyford, said: ‘I think it is inevitable that new houses have to be built.

‘However, green belt development for me is not a good idea because we need the green, we need the trees, we need the grass, we need the fields.

‘But, there is the option of brownfield sites and the grey field sites. It’s just something that is going to happen and there is not a lot we can do about it, I’m afraid.

Rob Hopping, a 37-year-old finance officer, said: ‘As long as they provide the services for those houses, I haven’t got a problem with it because at the moment I think we struggle up here for the communities and services.

‘However, as long as the facilities are in place, I’m fine with it. If they are not created, then I think we might struggle.’

Grant Cawte, a 50-year-old civil servant, said: ‘If we need houses, they have to go somewhere. If the most appropriate location is on green belt land, that is not ideal.

‘But if there is no alternative and we need houses, maybe they can be built with the most sustainable methods of construction in mind and the type of housing.

‘For me, I’m comfortable with it. If it has to happen, it has to happen – let’s just do it in the right way.’

Ian, 88, and Carole Wright, 81, said they were the first people to move into their row of new builds in Heyford Park. They live opposite a building site with homes under construction.

Pointing to the site opposite, Mrs Wright said: ‘It was green when we moved in and it didn’t occur to us that what is opposite would happen.’

Mr Wright said: ‘The thing that concerns us is that when we moved here there was hardly any traffic. Now, in the mornings and in the evenings, you’ve got huge lorries, transporters with cars on them, vans and cars – everything – and they rattle past over the speed humps in the road.

‘I know people have got to have somewhere to live but that’s our main concern – the constant heavy traffic on this road which would be worse with more homes built on green belt land.’

Mrs Wright said: ‘We were told there was going to be an entrance for the commercial vehicles (around the back), but that hasn’t happened and we’ve got a nursery and a pre-school and we see all these children and you know what they’re like.’

Mr Wright added: ‘There has been one accident with a child, about three or four years ago, so that’s our other main concern.

‘This road is so busy. When we first came here they promised they were going to build a road for all the lorries to go out the back… but that just hasn’t happened, so I don’t know whether that is still in the plan or not.’

‘We don’t like the idea of them building on green land, the green belt.

Mrs Wright said: ‘I would’ve thought there is enough untidy land that could be used instead.’

And Mr Wright added: ‘I should think they could get 10,000 houses over there (the building site and land opposite his home) and it’s so gigantic. So what happens there is not so much of the problem as building on the green land around the rest of the village.

‘The road is the main concern. You’ve got these huge, heavy lorries, thumping up and down, day and night.’

Kent – Countryside could be reduced if homes are built

Furious residents in Kent have hit out at plans to build over 1,000 homes on green belt near them, saying that there will ‘soon be no countryside left.’

Homeowners in Ashford spoke out as the government announced plans to relax building on the nation’s greenbelt sites to help boost the economy.

They are angry at plans to build 1,500 homes across just 1.5 square miles of their town—which residents say will mean there is ‘no green left’.

This backlash comes after Chancellor Rachel Reeves announced a dramatic overhaul of the planning system which targeted many parts of the green belt.

In Ashford, four developments amounting to almost 1,500 homes have been proposed, with almost 600 already under construction – which residents have branded as ‘mad’ and ‘dreadful’ for wildlife.

Angie Davidson, who has lived in the area for 11 years, said: ‘The road has just changed so much.

‘I love the walk along the path where the new houses would be from Cradlebridge Drive to Kennington Road – you can see all the seasons as you walk past.

‘But there will be no green left in it soon. Wildlife is a huge worry which those involved don’t care about.

‘There are visibly less bees and badgers now and always dead animals like hedgehogs in Kennington Road which never used to happen. From a wildlife perspective the plan is dreadful.’

Developers Quinn Estates assure that an ecological area featuring a woodland would be created in the south-west corner, alongside landscaped green spaces and walking trails– but residents do not feel this is enough.

Green Party representative Councillor Liz Wright echoed these environmental concerns, stating that Labour’s new housing plans will set the country back years.

The cabinet member for communities, health and wellbeing said: ‘It is putting us back to the situation that we were in a couple of years ago.

‘Michael Gove relaxed the housing targets which I tend to agree with, but this government has put them back. It is basically putting us back to the position we were in two years ago.

‘We do need more housing and that may mean that some fields need to be built over, but we need to exhaust all the other options first.

‘I don’t think that there is a local need for the kind of houses that are being built.

‘It certainly affects people who have bought a home with an open view of the countryside which is now going to be built over.’

Joan Cossey, 80, has lived in Willesborough Lees for 11 years—where 180 homes are proposed in the fourth project on a 1.8-mile stretch.

Featuring two, three, four and five-bedroom houses, the project, called Kingsland Green, could be built on a field next to Givaudan perfume factory and the M20.

Mrs Cossey has criticised the plans, stating: ‘We just need less houses being built in Ashford, especially on greenfield sites where it floods.

‘We have decided to drive when we want to post a letter now because it’s too scary to walk along Kennington Road and have to zigzag across the street. So many homes also have three or four cars now, so I can’t believe more could be coming.

‘There are also no buses which go from Little Burton in Kennington to the hospital, which we need.’

The biggest project – known as Crown Hill View or ‘Large Burton’ – will feature 725 homes, of which 288 are already under construction.

Outline permission for another 437 as part of phase two has also been approved, with full plans expected soon.

Meanwhile, the first phase of Conningbrook Lakes, featuring 300 homes, is on the verge of completion, with its second phase of 170 properties to follow should it be given the nod by planning officers.

Developer Tolman Homes is also close to building 16 homes, known as Grasslands, directly adjacent to Kingsland Green in Abbey Way.

If approved, Kingsland Green would comprise 126 private houses,18 social homes, 23 affordable properties and 13 starter homes.

Medical practitioner Gurpreet Bhinder says he is worried about the new builds as congestion is already at an all-time-high.

The 52-year-old, who has lived in Waltham Close since 2018, said: ‘Getting to the William Harvey Hospital takes a long time at peak hours with traffic jams getting worse.

‘So I was certainly surprised to hear plans for so many homes in the field. I just think there is so much land elsewhere away from narrow roads.

‘I’m not too sure why this area is being targeted for so many houses.’

Quinn Estates says the two-storey homes will be accessed via a new junction on a bend off the A2070.

Despite the plans being proposed near land notorious for flooding, the developers acknowledge a wetland will be created to minimise the issue.

However, residents say the biggest concern with the developments across east Ashford is the strain they are placing on public services.

Kathy Weller, 69, said: ‘I worry about infrastructure being so close to the hospital, but also about people’s safety.

‘You’d have thought Conningbrook Lakes and Crown Hill View was enough already.

‘There are more cars than ever before in the 23 years I have been here and it’s causing more accidents at the junction with Blackwall Road South.

‘A lot of people don’t even know there is a new development down that road called Pine Way which has quite a few houses, plus you already have Kings Chase and Little Burton.

‘But in terms of these 180 homes, I’d be very concerned about moving there if it gets built. I would certainly be interested to know how safe it is with the flooding which happens there.’

Richard Manning, 55, added: ‘I moved to Blackwall Road North four years ago. We didn’t know when we moved how many homes were planning to be built here and it’s why I always put an objection in.

‘It sounds obvious but 1,000 homes could equate to about 4,000 people. There’s thousands of cars, regular crashes and near-misses now as the road goes from 40 to 30mph on what is already a fast-flowing road.

‘So the area has just become over-diversified with a lack of infrastructure. I used to live in Whitstable and still have to go there for a dentist appointment as I have no chance of getting one here.

‘Developers just want their money and then leave the carnage here, so another building site is just mad.’

ABC’s current Local Plan was adopted in February 2019 and earmarks the borough’s sites for potential new homes up to 2030.

Despite the proposal for Kingsland Green not featuring in the latest Plan, the authority, which is run by an Ashford Independents/Green Party coalition, has noted the plot in its ‘call for sites’ list.

This is a list allowing residents, landowners and developers to suggest plots that they would like to be considered for development ahead of ABC’s upcoming Local Plan to 2041.

A consultation was carried out between September and November 2023 across the borough in which Quinn Estates suggested the plot for Kingsland Green should be used for housing.

It comes at the same time ABC continues to face difficulties with its housing targets – despite its aim of building 2,292 new homes between 2019 and 2022 being exceeded by more than seven per cent.

Speaking previously, a spokesman for ABC explained: ‘We have been unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land since 2020.

‘It is a challenge many councils face and doesn’t mean that any housing proposal will be required to be granted planning permission.

‘The council has an adopted Local Plan in place, and this still provides an up-to-date policy framework to determine planning applications.

‘We are also in the process of reviewing the Local Plan, in line with the government’s requirements, and this will provide a mechanism to rectify the land supply position in due course.’

Quinn Estates therefore argues the project will resolve some of Ashford’s ‘housing delivery issues’.

Information released by the company on the application’s planning documents reads: ‘Kingsland Green presents a unique opportunity to deliver a new residential community in Willesborough Lees, to the east of Ashford.

‘The aim is to contribute to meeting an identified need for family housing, including delivering affordable homes.

‘The delivery of up to 180 dwellings on this site would support the delivery of the wetland which in turn could unlock housing on other sites and assist Ashford in resolving its housing delivery issues.’

Meanwhile, Redrow – which is currently building the first homes at Crown Hill View – says the area’s biggest project will benefit residents and public services.

A spokesman said: ‘As well as delivering up to 725 much-needed, energy efficient new homes, 30 per cent of which will be classed as affordable, we will be contributing in excess of £14million to the Ashford community.

‘This funding will support essential public services and includes over £1.7m for highway improvement works and £5m towards new and existing primary and secondary schools in the local area.’

However, Councillor Liz Wright has agreed with residents within her Willesborough Lees ward regarding too many homes being in the area.

She added: ‘We have had enormous problems with traffic. Lorries roar past there coming from Canterbury and it shakes houses. So the thought of more traffic which the development would no doubt generate is something of great concern.

‘The infrastructure is not in place with people facing waiting lists for GPs and schools, so I would definitely support residents on this. I know there is a need for housing, but I don’t think enough is being done to use brownfield sites for it.’

A decision on whether Kingsland Green receives approval for its outline application is expected by September 17.

Yorkshire – Green belt in Reeves’s area could be affected

Green campaigners fear that housing could be built on greenbelt land in Rachel Reeves’s own constituency after her announcement she is to relax planning laws.

Land near Pudsey in West Yorkshire, where the new Chancellor represents, was previously earmarked for housing and industry under Bradford City Council’s Local Plan.

No work has yet been done on the green belt land in the Tong and Fulneck Valley, but campaigners raised objections over fears up to 1,500 new houses could be built.

In her first major act as Chancellor, Ms Reeves said she wanted to relax restrictions stopping builders using greenbelt land for developments in a bid to kickstart the economy.

She said a planning law overhaul was needed to boost growth and environmental concerns could not be allowed to block all future developments.

But Green councillor Matt Edwards, who represents the Tong ward in Bradford, which borders Ms Reeves’ Leeds West and Pudsey seat, slammed the plan.

He said: ‘Building on the Tong and Fulneck Valley was never off the agenda, but Labour’s proposals will mean local people have even less of a say than they do now and big housing developers will be calling even more of the shots.

‘At least with the current planning rules, there was a process where people can comment and object.

‘What Rachel Reeves seems to be proposing is silencing the voices of local people and the community.

‘When people think of green belt, they tend to just associate it with the countryside, but it’s an important factor in stopping communities essentially merging.

‘In the case of the Tong and Fulneck Valley, it’s the last bit of green space that stops Leeds and Bradford just smashing into each other.

‘What we need in Bradford is more social housing, more affordable housing. Our city has a lot of brown field sites which are crying out for redevelopment.

‘What Labour are proposing is to rip up the housing rules and leave it in the hands of the developers who will always be driven by their profit margins and will look to build on green field sites.’

The Treasury has been approached for comment.

Dorset – More chance of development given new reforms 

Campaigners fear that a controversial 4,000 home development on land which inspired Thomas Hardy is more likely to go ahead now due to Labour’s planning reforms.

The eastern edge of the proposed side on land north of Dorchester in Dorset is a stone’s throw from the birthplace of the Wessex author and the village where he went to school.

In Hardy’s famous 1886 novel, the Mayor of Casterbridge, he described in detail the very same land that is under threat.

The development will also be ‘slap bang in the middle’ of a proposed new National Park – the highest level of conservation status afforded to important countryside.

Liberal Democrat-run Dorset Council is under pressure to build over 15,000 new homes in west Dorset – one of the worst areas in Britain for affordable housing – by 2036.

With Labour set to encourage building on greenbelt land, campaigners say the ‘green lungs’ of the county are at risk.

They have called on the new Government to focus on building on brownfield sites instead of paving the way for ‘executive homes on greenbelt land that will not be affordable to local residents’.

Jane Ashdown, who chairs the campaign group Save the Area North of Dorchester (Stand), which has almost 5,000 people, said: ‘These fields are the green lungs of Dorchester.

‘The landscape is of huge historical, environmental, and cultural significance. Dorset Council needs to rethink the Local Plan so that it gives us the homes we need rather than chasing government housing targets.’

She added: ‘I am definitely concerned (about Labour’s planning reforms).

‘We have 13,000 permission plots on brownfield sites across the Dorset Council area which have not been built so we should concentrate on getting shovels in the ground on these plots.

‘The priority has to be building affordable and social housing for carers and hospital key workers, not executive homes they would not be able to afford on greenfield sites out of town, with the traffic and pollution problems they bring.’

Mrs Ashdown continued: ‘We are not NIMBYs. We actively want house building, but house building that meets local need for affordable homes – both to buy and for social rent; and that is in the right place, actually in our backyard – brownfield sites – with easy access to the main employment in our area – the hospital, care sector, education, public services, agriculture and independent businesses.’

She said a ‘market-driven’ greenfield development of 4,000 houses north of the town between the villages of Charminster and Stinsford would rely ‘heavily on in-migration to the area from more affluent and likely an older population seeking retirement/second homes’.

Mrs Ashdown added: ‘It wouldn’t address the needs of local young families and key workers who would be priced out of such a car dependent development. The government needs to listen to area residents and not bulldoze their concerns under Tarmac.

‘And keep in mind that the proposed development north of Dorchester, according to Wessex Water – would degrade our water quality – another deep concern that needs to be listened to.’

Downton Abbey creator Lord Julian Fellowes, who is president of the Hardy Society and lives at Stafford House, near Dorchester, has previously spoken out against the plans.

He said: ‘If our countryside gets through this generation unscathed it will be something of a miracle.

‘We do have to be a modern county but I don’t feel the burden of extra development is being shared equally in Dorset.

‘I can’t claim that every inch of Hardy country and its history is under threat whenever development is proposed.

‘But there are very few other world renowned novelists where you still have the house they were born in, the house they wrote their books in and the villages and countryside they based their characters and scenes on.’

Chancellor Rachel Reeves announced a raft of plans on Monday to build more houses across the UK.

In a speech, Ms Reeves reiterated a number of campaign promises, including freeing up planning restrictions and forcing local councils to build more homes.

Labour made housebuilding a key part of its policy plans in the run-up to the election. But what exactly did Ms Reeves propose – and what do housebuilders think of it?

– What did Rachel Reeves announce?

The chancellor said she will reinstate compulsory housebuilding targets for local councils, as part of plans to build 1.5 million new homes in the next five years.

Former levelling up secretary Michael Gove removed mandatory targets in 2023. In the period afterwards, councils across the country revised their housebuilding plans down.

Ms Reeves also said Labour would reform the planning system to make it easier to build houses on less desirable parts of the green belt, which Sir Keir Starmer has dubbed the ‘grey belt’.

The Government will also prioritise building energy infrastructure projects, and lift a de facto ban on onshore wind projects across the UK.

– How will it work?

Labour says it will publish a new draft National Planning Policy Framework, which lays out the precise details, before Parliament rises for recess in August.

Angela Rayner, the deputy prime minister and levelling up secretary, and Matthew Pennycook, the planning minister, will lead the overhaul. Part of their jobs will be to lead a review of the boundaries of the green belt.

Ms Reeves said Labour will also set up a team of experts to ‘accelerate stalled housing sites’, starting with projects in Liverpool, Worcestershire and Sutton Coldfield.

Labour will also appoint 300 extra planning officers across the country.

The Chancellor did not give a date for the next Budget, where the Government lays out its spending plans, but she said it would be in the autumn.

– What are businesses saying?

In response to Ms Reeves’ speech, Rob Perrins, Berkeley Group chief executive, said he is ‘hugely encouraged to see the clear priority and focus on housing delivery’.

‘Today’s announcements are a very positive start and we will continue to work closely with (the) Government to help unlock the potential of brownfield regeneration sites to deliver good green homes, both affordable and private.’

Barratt Homes, the UK’s largest housebuilder, already voiced support for Labour’s 1.5 million target on Friday after the party won the election.

The Builders Merchants Federation, a trade body, said that the involvement of smaller firms was ‘critically important to get anywhere near’ the target.

– Why is Labour doing this?

Experts agree that Britain is suffering from a chronic shortage of housing, while previous Governments have struggled to hit ambitious targets to build more homes.

In the year to March, about 135,000 homes started being constructed, a drop of more than one-fifth on the year before.

Britain has not built 300,000 new homes a year, the amount needed to hit the 1.5 million target, since the 1950s.

Last month, average private rents in Britain climbed to record highs, in another sign that demand for housing is far outstripping supply.

– Are the targets realistic?

They’re certainly difficult. Paul Maile, a senior planning partner at law firm Eversheds Sutherland, said obstacles include ‘supply chain constraints, and a shortage of skilled workers like construction personnel’.

Meanwhile, James Dunne, head of operational real estate at asset manager Abrdn, added that the Government’s targets ‘have never been reached in annual terms without significant direct development by Government or local authorities’.

‘In the expected continued absence of this, the Government needs to go beyond the planning system and work in partnership and financially support the private sector to deliver significant volumes of housing across all tenures.’

– What about the nimbys?

And while there is certainly appetite from the business world, there will be significant opposition from so-called nimbys (‘not in my back yard’ – a term for people who oppose new developments).

Ms Reeves was asked if Labour is ‘going to war’ with nimbys after the speech.

She said planning decisions will still ‘in the first instance’ be up to local communities, but compulsory targets mean councils cannot always reject new developments.

The Chancellor said Ms Rayner will also write to planning authorities making clear ‘what is expected’ of them.

‘I know there will be opposition to this … trade-offs always exist,’ Ms Reeves added.

‘But we will not succumb to a status quo that … relegates the national interest below other priorities.’

error: Content is protected !!