3 Jan 2014

Where do we build?

Photo: Ruscombe by Mike Gallagher
Most Greens have an instinctive aversion to building on greenfield sites. There are many good reasons for this – protecting our farmland, our green spaces, protecting habitats and wildlife and preserving the green belt. All of these in turn contribute to quality of life for all. However, there are times when it might make more sense to develop a greenfield site. Here are some examples.

When the infrastructure is better able to support it. Greenfield development where there are good local transport hubs, and good local resources already in place may make more sense than adding pressure to places where the road networks cannot take any more cars, where there are no schools, and no medical services, for example.

When the greenfield site is not much of a habitat. Arable farmland may look green, but may also be quite barren in terms of resident wildlife. Conversely, not all brownfield sites are devoid of wildlife. Locations reclaimed by nature can be rich with wildlife. We have a lot of sites in Stroud that are technically brownfield, because they have the ruins of mills on them. Some of those have become valuable habitats for otters and kingfishers. Old buildings are also potential roosting sites for bats, owls and other endangered creatures. Our old railway lines have re-wooded and, are valuable habitats and leisure spaces.

We might also want to think about the visual impact of development, about who is going to be affected by it, which views will change, and how it will impact on communities. In rural settings, we need to think about whether additional build could help to keep local schools open and other local resources viable and in place.

The government is championing new build as the solution to our country’s financial difficulties. The Green Party does not believe that covering the countryside in tarmac and brick represents a good solution. We have to balance quality of life against financial gains. We have to think about what is needed. While we aren’t keen on development for the sake of development, we are dedicated to doing our best to make sure that we get the right things in the right places for the right reasons. That means looking at the evidence on the ground rather than letting wild speculation and unfounded imagination guide the way.

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