Sunday, 24 November 2013

Green Belts: the Seaton-Colyford 'green wedge'

There has been an ongoing dispute over proposed development on the 'green wedge' between Seaton and Colyton:
View From Online - News from West Dorset, East Devon & South Somerset
Seaton Park Development
12/1185/MOUT | Outline planning application for a mixed use development providing for Class B1(a) offices (up to 3,100sqm GIA), Class B1(c) and B2 Industrial Units (up to 4,791sqm GIA), play space/open space, sports field, including two football pitches, multi-use games area, changing rooms and parking and erection of up to 170 dwellings (34 affordable) and associated roads and infrastructure including a main spine road (all matters reserved) | Land East Of Harepath Road Seaton

The District Council's planning board (Development Management Committee) rejected the planning application in June:
Green wedge building plans rejected
Victory for ‘green wedge’ protesters - News - Midweek Herald
www.eastdevon.gov.uk/devman-sched_110613_-sched-1.pdf (page 37)
And again in November:
Victory for ‘green wedge’ campaigners - News - Midweek Herald

The applicants will be making an appeal:
A Green Wedge | Sidmouth Independent News
COLYTON TODAY | NEWS | SEATON: Thumbs down for green wedge ‘plan b’ | 2013
Colyford-Seaton green wedge appeal hearing | Sidmouth Independent News

Such struggles seem to be happening across the country:
Green Wedge is Approaching Armageddon | This is Lincolnshire
Green-wedge home plans for Mansfield are rejected - Mansfield and Ashfield Chad
Inspector rejects 91-home green wedge development in Leicestershire
Traffic and floods fears over Chellaston green wedge housing plans | Derby Telegraph
Vivary Green Wedge plans in Taunton - 'maladministration didn't cause injustice' (From Somerset County Gazette)
Kingston Council considers opening green wedge up for residential subdivision | Herald Sun

The first recorded 'green wedge' was instigated by Muhammed around Medina [Iqbal, Munawwar (2005). Islamic Perspectives on Sustainable Development] and by Elizabeth 1st around London [Halliday, Stephen (2004). Underground to Everywhere]
The purposes are clear - but there is controversy:


The difference/contrarian interpretation of the green belt's effects/motivation (for example, suggested by economist Tim Harford [3]) is that a green belt is created by residents to preserve the bourgeois status quo of those already living within the zone, and especially the advantage of landlords who profit from a scarcity of housing (see above, "preserving the character of rural communities"). In this interpretation, the stated motivation and benefits of the green belt are well-intentioned (public health, environment), but these benefits accrue as intentioned or claimed (for example, critics such as Mark Pennington [4] claim that only a small fraction of the population ever sets foot on the green belt for leisure purposes,and they claim that a green belt is not strongly causally linked to clean air and water). Rather, the ultimate result of the decision to green belt a city is to maintain the middle class status quo, [5] thus exacerbating high housing prices by concentrating demand within the zone and stifling competitive forces in general.
Another area of criticism comes from the fact that, since a greenbelt does not extend indefinitely outside a city, it might spur the growth of areas much further away from the city core than if it had not existed, thereby actually increasing urban sprawl.[6] Examples commonly cited are the Ottawa suburbs of Kanata and Orleans, both of which are outside the city's greenbelt, and are currently undergoing explosive growth (see Greenbelt (Ottawa)). This can lead to other problems, as residents of these areas have further to commute to work (if they seek employment in city) and little access to public transport. It also means people will commute through the green belt, an area not designed to cope with high levels of transportation. Not only is the merit of a green belt apparently subverted, but the green belt may heighten the problem and make the city unsustainable.
There are many examples whereby the actual effect of green belts is to act as a land reserve for future freeways and other highways. Examples include sections of the 407 highway north of Toronto and the Hunt Club Rd / Richmond Rd. south of Ottawa. Whether they are originally planned as such, or the result of a newer administration taking advantage of land that was left available by its predecessors is debatable.
In Britain, greenbelt barriers to urban expansion have been criticised as one of several protectionist political-economic barriers to housebuilding with negative effects on the supply, cost/prices, and quality of new homes. Critics argue that the greenbelts actually defeat their own stated objective of saving the countryside and open spaces. By preventing existing towns and cities from extending normally and organically, they result in more land-extensive housing developments further out – i.e., the establishment beyond the greenbelts of new communities with lower building densities, their own built infrastructure and other facilities, and greater dependence on cars and commuting, etc. Meanwhile, valuable urban green space and brownfield sites best suited to industry and commerce are lost in existing conurbations as more and more new housing is crammed into them.[7]
Green belt - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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