I have always championed the protection of our Green Belt countryside and brownfield regeneration. Most recently, I have been campaigning in support of residents concerned about the recent planning application from Redrow and Ashfield Land seeking to build around 150 houses on The Batch site in Hanham, which is in the Green Belt.
I was pleased to join residents at a campaign rally to hear their concerns, as well as launch a petition on my website to gather support for our campaign – and I am grateful to the over 300 local people who added their signatures. I recently presented this, alongside residents and local councillor Brenda Langley, to the Council urging them to refuse the application and have submitted my own letter of objection.
The developer’s plans appear to be a result of the West of England Combined Authority’s well-documented attempt last year to force South Gloucestershire to build 37,000 more houses – 10,000 more than government figures suggest is needed to meet local demand. The Green Belt countryside around Hanham and Longwell Green was earmarked for several thousand new houses. While South Gloucestershire Council blocked this plan from the Combined Authority, the development industry were busy snapping up the land needed to meet the Combined Authority’s damaging target. They are trying their luck in putting their plans in before the council’s new Local Plan is published later this summer, which I hope will re-confirm the importance of protecting the Green Belt.
I commend the work of the Hanham District Green Belt Conservation Society, campaigners and local councillors in helping to raise awareness in the local community. Building more homes here without the necessary investment in services and infrastructure will just pile pressure on to already-stretched facilities.
When it comes to building the homes, jobs and infrastructure we need for local people, we should prioritise brownfield development and urban regeneration. That’s why the regeneration of Kingswood town centre and sites like Kleeneze in Hanham, the old Grange site in Warmley and parts of the Gallagher Retail Park are so important. We shouldn’t see our precious green fields concreted over when empty or underused brownfield sites remain, which could provide the new affordable homes and high quality jobs we so desperately need for a prosperous and zero carbon future.