An important paper on the future of the green belt has recently been published by Professor Dieter Helm. The paper is quite long, but the conclusion is applicable to Hart Council as it continues to push for a new settlement in Winchfield that will concrete over the green lung at the heart of Hart as part of the Local Plan.
Before policy makers surrender to the direct interests of the developers, they should pause for thought. There is a viable third alternative that at least deserves proper analysis, and it is potentially rich in benefits. Instead of yet more urban sprawl, imagine a Green belt with lots of natural capital, a much more environmentally benign agriculture, much greater public access, woodlands located next to people so it could fulfil not only the original purpose of limiting the sprawl but also provide the lungs of the cities, the fresh air for children to play in, and the recreational benefits which are crucial to health and well being. That is worth exploring before the irreversible destruction of this major asset located exactly where it is needed – next to people. There is after all no shortage of land to build houses on if that is what is required. It does not have to be at the expense of a key asset that the previous generation left to us, and which we have a responsibility to pass onto the next generation.
It seems obvious that Hart would derive significant benefits from avoiding urban sprawl by maintaining and enhancing our natural green spaces, through keeping places for children to play and for all of us to walk and cycle so we can improve our health and well-being.
Time for Hart to think again. If you would like to add to the pressure on Hart to change its approach, please sign and share our petition.