Friday, 12 April 2013

Countryside or urban sprawl?

Kent Green Party is concerned that Kent’s countryside is to be sacrificed to development under the National Planning Policy Framework(1). Dr Hazel Dawe, Campaigns Officer of Kent Green Party, explains:

“The Government has already been forced to recognise that its original proposals for a new National Planning Policy Framework were unworkable (2). However, there is no absolute protection under current law for the countryside or for agricultural land. Consequently, there is no guarantee that Kent’s long-term empty homes, offices, derelict industrial sites and shops will ever be made into housing.

“Kent Green Party challenges all parties standing in the County election to demonstrate that they are committed to opposing urban sprawl and to conserving the countryside for tourism, agriculture, forestry(3) and biodiversity.

“We have a rich, diverse countryside in Kent. We are extremely unlucky that well over a hundred years of nearly uninterrupted Conservative rule in Kent has led to many unwanted developments that have destroyed and degraded large areas. We need to:

1. Protect the countryside and green belts, defending rural footpaths, and placing new protective designations on the landscape;
2. Create new allotments on the edge of urban areas on agricultural land, to boost farm incomes and increase vegetable growing;
3. Provide increased financial support to farmers and voluntary and commercial groups working to plant sustainable woodlands and extend natural habitats;
4. Designate more areas as unsuitable or inappropriate for development to protect public open space, allotments, habitats and current and future walking and cycling routes;
5. Create a dramatic increase in water conservation by everyone, for example by making water butts available to homes and businesses at low prices.”

FURTHER INFORMATION: Dr Hazel Dawe, Campaigns Officer, KENT GREEN PARTY, on 079444 71083 or 01732 355185. Contact address as above. Promoted by H.Dawe for Kent Green Party, both at 27 Audley Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1XF. KENT GREEN NEWS, free ezine, is available by subscription at Dr Dawe holds a Kent Wildlife Trust Gold Award for having a garden appropriate for encouraging wildlife and beneficial insects, like bees.
1.      The Government’s National Planning Policy Framework can be seen at:
2.      The government has had to back off in its revised proposal notably through:
“• confirmation of the development plan as the basis for planning decision-making locally
• a fuller explanation of what it means by sustainable development
• recognition of the ‘intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside’
• support for brownfield development
• stronger support for town centres
• clarification of the relationship between local and neighbourhood plans
• a 12-month, supported, timetable for implementation.” SEE: However, serious problems remain as under-funded local government often does not have development plans in place. SEE for example: CPRE briefing on implementation problems of the National Planning Policy Framework, March 2013:,d.d2k

3.      Including for biomass energy and reducing the UK’s wood imports. The UK was the third largest net importer (imports less exports) of forest products in 2010, behind China and Japan:

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