South Hampshire Green Belt

Girl running through meadow Adam Swaine
Girl running through meadow Adam Swaine

Protecting South Hampshire’s countryside and preventing urban sprawl

Read new research report by NEF Consulting

Campaign update July 2020

We’re currently campaigning for a new Green Belt to prevent urban sprawl north of the built-up areas of South Hampshire – it’s part of our strategic vision for the county.

A South Hampshire Green Belt would provide vital access to the countryside for people living in the larger towns and cities of Eastleigh, Fareham, Portsmouth, Romsey, Southampton and Winchester, and restrict the further sprawl and merging of these urban areas.

During the coronavirus lockdown, there’s been a surge of appreciation for the countryside and an awareness of the role that green spaces and nature play in our wellbeing.

We’re realising the value of the countryside nearest to our homes. This value can be expressed in different ways.

In 2019, we commissioned independent research to explore the social, economic and environmental value of the countryside in South Hampshire.

Introducing a South Hampshire Green Belt: exploring the socioeconomic and environmental value

The report NEF Consulting – Introducing a South Hampshire Green Belt Study – June 2020 by NEF Consulting, part of UK think tank the New Economics Foundation, focuses on the potential benefits to our health and wellbeing, the economy, and the value of nature and ecosystems.

The findings of this major piece of research were published in June 2020. The analysis is based on the large body of evidence from UK and international research studies on the environmental and economic benefits and physical and mental health benefits of green and open spaces – benefits that are being highlighted even more to all of us during the coronavirus pandemic.

Key findings

  • The research finds that the countryside north of the urban centres of South Hampshire could generate almost £26 million a year in terms of health, wellbeing, economic and ecosystem benefits if protected by a Green Belt.
  • The health and wellbeing benefit for people living in and around this area of countryside could amount to up to £17 million a year. This value relates to the potential loss of wellbeing if the proposed Green Belt area was built on.
  • The potential impact of building across the proposed Green Belt area may cost the NHS up to £690,000 in increased GP visits a year.
  • The value of ecosystem services provided by the proposed Green Belt area for food, removal of air and carbon pollution, flood protection and biodiversity are estimated at £7.6 million a year. These are important aspects in tackling the climate emergency.
  • The potential economic benefit from tourism and recreation in the proposed Green Belt area is estimated as much as £1.3 million a year.

Looking ahead over two generations, if Net Present Value (NPV) is applied to the annual figures, the estimated NPV over the next 60 years is:

  • The combined NPV over two generations could produce well in excess of half a billion pounds in health, wellbeing, economic and ecosystem benefits.
  • Up to £452 million in health and wellbeing benefits for people living in and around the proposed Green Belt.
  • £192 million from ecosystem services provided by the proposed Green Belt area.
  • £35 million in economic benefits from tourism and recreation activity in the proposed Green Belt area.

What happens next?

We want our decision-makers to make sure that the value of our countryside, as set out in this report, is retained by the protection of a Green Belt – the only effective legislation currently available to prevent urban sprawl.

The report findings are relevant to any area of countryside or green space. They highlight the huge value that our countryside and green spaces bring in terms of health, wellbeing, economic and ecosystem benefits, and what is lost if they’re built on.

It’s important that these values are considered by planning authorities when considering the location of development – we want to see a genuine ‘brownfield first’ approach. Furthermore, there may be potential for reconsidering the uses in town and city centres, in the light of high street decline.

We’ve sent our MPs, Council leaders and planning contacts a copy of the report and we’re asking for a meeting to discuss the findings. Campaign update July 2020

We want to make sure that South Hampshire has a countryside next door for current and future generations – please support our campaign and sign and share our petition for a South Hampshire Green Belt.

If you’ve already signed the petition, please follow us on social media (links at end of page) and share our campaign posts with your friends, families and colleagues. Thank you!

Read NEF Consulting’s report

Sign and share our petition on Change.org to protect South Hampshire’s countryside

Read our Planning for a South Hampshire Green Belt Paper

Read our news release

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Children climbing in the New Forest