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New Report Shows Strategic Gaps Not Enough to Protect the Countryside

Keep it Green - Support a South Hampshire Green Belt Keep it Green - Support a South Hampshire Green Belt CPRE Hampshire

CPRE Hampshire have released a report questioning the worth of the ‘strategic gaps’ used to protect areas of land in South Hampshire.

As part of the ongoing campaign to adopt a Green Belt in South Hampshire, the charity commissioned a report into the effectiveness of Local and Strategic Gaps currently used to protect areas of green space and stop urban sprawl.

The report highlighted the limited value of these Gaps in protecting the countryside and our green spaces suggesting that these measures are not enough to maintain the integrity of our urban areas or protect our vital green spaces.

Chief Executive of the charity Charlee Bennett feels the report has given even more support for the campaign. ‘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. 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. It suggested that in a national context, this area of South Hampshire was somewhat unique in not having Green Belt status, with most other similar large urban areas in the country, where cities at risk of merging are maintained and protected by 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. The Committee agreed to consider the Green Belt as part of their Duty of Co-operate arrangements, however there is still a long way to go to incorporate this alongside the requirement to provide the affordable homes our region needs.

Ms Bennett said: ‘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. The facts support it, the public support it, and many of our council leaders and decision makers support it. We hope that this report will add to the body of evidence in favour of the Green Belt and will help our decision makers move decisively to protect our invaluable green spaces for us all to share and enjoy for generations to come.’

Read the report in full below.

Update

We are delighted to announce that Chair of PUSH and Leader of Fareham Borough Council Cllr Sean Woodward has responded to our report.  The Councillor has backed the idea of a South Hampshire Green Belt and would love to see this developed in 1-2 years. 

He 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.’

Another fantastic step in our campaign! #KeepitGreen - Support a South Hampshire Green Belt. 

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