Sheffield's Green Belt Review
We recently responded to the first stage of consultations on Sheffield's new Local Plan. The document, 'Citywide Growth Options to 2034', focuses on where to locate around 43,000 new homes in Sheffield. There is a real danger that a big slice of this new development will take place in the Green Belt that currently protects the beautiful countryside around the city.
It's very important to build the right types of homes in the right places for the people who need them, at prices they can afford to buy or rent. Sheffield City Council has commissioned groundbreaking research to show that regenerating and remodelling inner urban areas like Neepsend and Attercliffe could provide many thousands of homes at the same time as tackling dereliction and under-used brownfield sites. Achieving this would show real vision and leadership and be great for the future of Sheffield.
Yet the consultation document talked down the amount of new housing those areas could provide, and looked to a number of large bites into the Green Belt to make up the numbers. Some of these bites are likely to be around Norton and along the Upper Don Valley from Oughtibridge to Stocksbridge. The trouble is that those areas are not well-served by public transport, they're a long way from central Sheffield and they risk filling up the green gaps between built-up areas that help to make Sheffield the Green City.
The Green Belt is important for keeping open the green spaces and the connection to the countryside that people value so much about Sheffield. It's also essential to give proper focus to development in inner urban areas, where it is closer to jobs and services and helps to regenerate run-down neighbourhoods. Relaxing the Green Belt makes it much harder to do that, so it's crucial that the Sheffield Local Plan doesn't make building in the Green Belt an easy option.
Green Belts are one of the most powerful and effective tools for protecting the countryside. Green Belt land is designated by law to
- protect the open character of the countryside next to urban areas
- focus and stimulate regeneration in neglected sites within cities and towns
- stop towns merging into each other
- protect the countryside setting of historic cities and towns
Green Belt land isn't necessarily conventionally beautiful countryside or especially significant for nature conservation. But it is land that is precious because it is open and undeveloped - a place where built development can only take place in the most exceptional circumstances. We believe that if Green Belt land is derelict or unsightly then it should be turned into attractive countryside that will be valuable to people living in nearby towns and cities.
South Yorkshire's Green Belt
It's taken decades of hard campaigning to get the South Yorkshire Green Belt. Without it, Sheffield would have sprawled out into the Peak District in the west. It would have merged eastwards with Rotherham, eventually engulfing Barnsley and Doncaster. However, South Yorkshire's Green Belt is under increasing pressure from developers, and we're constantly campaigning to protect and improve it.
Full Green Belt for Doncaster
South Yorkshire's Green Belt still isn't complete. Land to the east of Doncaster isn't designated as Green Belt so it is still vulnerable to development. We're really worried about the huge rise in urban sprawl - including an increase in proposals for housing, storage and distribution developments - down the eastern boundary of Doncaster. We want the Green Belt to be extended all the way around Doncaster, and this is what we have been campaigning for.
Boo to new Core Strategy!
Doncaster Council is formulating its new Local Development Framework including its Core Strategy, which sets out the overall plan for development in the borough. The Planning Inspectorate has recently given its verdict on the new Core Strategy - and it hasn't helped us. We put forward a strong case for an extension of the Green Belt, but they maintained the current split between Countryside Policy Areas and Green Belt.
We believe this will lead to an imbalance of growth and a greater threat to Doncaster's countryside, especially in the east.
A full review of the Green Belt is expected within five years. When this starts up - we'll be out there campaigning again!
In the meantime, we will continue to oppose the unnecessary loss of countryside in Doncaster and South Yorkshire, whether it is land in the Green Belt or the Countryside Policy Area.
Contact us to find out more.