Friday, 1 January 2010

How Green Is My Belt

Mr. G A Riding, Headmaster of Aldenham School, wrote a letter to "The Times" in 1937 about the encroachment of the "Green Belt" (which was not to exist officially for another ten years or so) by, primarily, housing developments linked to railway development. It was at this time that most of the northern half of our Borough was created. The 1948 Town & Country Planning Act was partly designed to put an end to this expansion in favour of "New Towns".

To paraphrase, slightly, Mr. Riding:

"The [Council] really wanted to create artificial centres of population in the few precious and unspoiled areas .... under the pretence of 'serving' communities which either have no desire to be so served or which do not exist."

We create housing for people that we know nothing about at our peril. If we created one million new homes, two million people would turn up who wanted to live in them. We no longer build huge roads as we now know that they generate extra traffic. People then had opportunities for travel that they previously lacked. The same principal applies with housing.

There needs to be a proper debate, involving the Public, about wholesale housing development on allegedly "vacant" land within the Borough. 2010 could be a critical year for the future of our built environment.

This is far more serious than the fripperies of the Barkingside "Town Centre Redevelopment".


  1. So true the changes the average 50 year old notices in this area over the last 20 years more so the last 10.

    Happy New Year

  2. This is a big topic with no easy answers in my opinion.We all know that the population will continue to increase, as it has done over the last 50 years.

    Currently I believe that the council has a target of 400 new affordable homes per year for the next 5 years.

    The on line "conversation" that took place in 2008 about generating income also suggested that the sale of land was a popular way of generating about £40m - with something like 52% in favour.

    See overall summary here.

    Read detailed responses are here.

    The Empty Homes Strategy website gives a breakdown by borough of last year's stats on empty homes.

    See the 2008 Redbridge empty homes stats here.

    I suppose we can only do so much redevelopment on brownfield sites, and something has to give at some point in the future - doesn't it?

    I'd be happy to host a forum debate over on the Redbridge Community Forums if you'd like to start one off. At least there is no delay on moderation, no waiting for posts to be cleared overnight, weekend or holidays and anyone can start a forum topic any time they want as long as they join up.

  3. Thanks for your thoughtful response, Mark, and for the most interesting references. It would seem that, if Redbridge wished to provide 400 homes per annum for the next five years, it could do so by making empty properties habitable. I wonder if they have thought of that?

    The main reasons why the "CON-versation" was discredited was because of its 'misleading prospectus'. A majority of people voted for spending on Schools (who wouldn't in a Borough with a large number of children) and took as accurate the figures quoted for "Land Sales" without questioning where this land was and how come it was worth that much. It wasn't! Much of it was not available for sale as it was commercially leased. It was therefore misdescribed.

    Even if it were so that "we can only do so much redevelopment on brownfield sites, and something has to give at some point in the future" - try telling a Rugby Club that has been around for over a century that they have to lose their ground for housing development. They cannot be relocated within the Borough because any land to which they could possibly be relocated will be up for sale!

    I note your offer of a forum debate and I know someone who would be interested in starting one.

  4. "try telling a Rugby Club..."

    I could do a pun about tackling there but I'm sure it's been done so many times before.

    On a serious note though, as I said, no easy answers. But I had wondered about the accuracy of figures myself, as I have only recently discovered all this "CON" stuff. Although I was too late to make my comments count I did try out the mock spending programme and thought that the options available were far too simplistic, with insufficient data and information made available to us. So yes, I had come to the conclusion that this exercise was far too shallow and unrealistic.

    One thing I did quickly have a look at was individual responses placed in my link above. That does give a sense of people's views, and therefore could be used as part of a debate couldn't it? After all these are views of some 5000 people in Redbridge who bothered to send in their views, even though they may not have been given the full facts.

    Some very good points there Neighbourhoodwatcher!

  5. ps. It would appear as though the REdbridge-i website is down! oh dear!

  6. Mark, re the big conversation, the consultation was most unusual in as much as it was anonymous, especially the paper version. I would have thought that a proper research of opinions would depend on the good people giving their opinions to also give names and addresses and telephone numbers so that their having given their opinions would be checkable.
    We certainly made our best efforts to encourage our friends in the allotments to not only fill in their form but also ask members of the family and friends and neighbours (this being absolutely allowed). We did not want our silence to be proof that we did not care about the allotments. We welcomed this opportunity to register our thoughts. (Weirdly enough, I cannot remember being charged to park in various parks to have been one of the options to raise capital!)
    Another point: I remember vividly, children being given a soft drink and then being asked to fill in a form and hand it in there and then for future reference. The questionnaire was complex and needed lots of thinking, not spur of the moment responses. Some children might have done it well but not in the time I witnessed.
    The Big Conversation saved the allotments.
    A gift horse to us, so am I wise to still protest?