Green Belt for South Hampshire
Shaping the future of South Hampshire for the benefit of all
South Hampshire is a unique area. Two National Parks and the coastline surround the major cities and urban areas of Portsmouth and Southampton. Three internationally renowned and ecologically important rivers run through the area and it has some beautiful countryside.
Since 1960 the South Hampshire Sub-Region, made up of the 12 Local Authorities who meet together as the Partnership for South Hampshire (PfSH), has seen significant growth and the demand for jobs and new housing continues to rise.
There’s no doubt we need more homes for local people and our Local Authorities are under pressure as they do their best to meet rising government housing targets and meet their resident’s needs. This is where the crux of the issue comes. The pressure to deliver more homes in a developer led market, means that green field sites that are quick and easy to develop are prioritised ahead of the brownfield sites that would help to regenerate urban areas, housing people closer to their jobs and to public transport links.
And what impact does this have? Of course there are the obvious environmental aspects. Fewer green areas means less biodiversity and more pollution. In addition, the higher population in the area increases demand on our natural resources, with water being heavily affected.
The urban sprawl of South Hampshire’s towns and cities has continued unchecked. The strategic gaps are being nibbled away and the countryside on our doorstep is at risk of being lost forever.
Why a Green Belt?
Green Belt is a planning policy that has five core purposes. It exists to:
- check the unrestricted sprawl of large built up areas
- prevent neighbouring towns from merging with one another
- assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
- preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
- assist with urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land
A Green Belt in South Hampshire would prevent Southampton, Portsmouth, Fareham and Eastleigh from continuing to sprawl outwards. It would stop the merging of smaller settlements and encourage the regeneration of urban areas in need of some attention.
A useful tool in the planning box
Ultimately, a new Green Belt gives our Local Authorities control. By protecting a continuous band of countryside in law, they can refocus the eyes of developers away from those beautiful green fields, to the brownfield sites that will take more work, but will better meet the needs of the local community.