The Green Belt issue for Ley Hill and Botley

This is the body of a message from local Councillor Noel Brown, in response to a public consultation on Green Belt designation.  Please take a minute to read through it.  You can follow the conversation on our forum at http://leyhill.info/chatter/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=3, or you can email him directly at noel.brown@leyhill.info.

I first picked up on Botley and Ley Hill being suggested as coming out of the Green Belt the week before Easter and then the local paper came out and I felt angry that I, as a local Member of the District Council had not been made aware of the detail or background. However I have made a point of looking into it as I have been involved in local Planning for 37 years now.

The Delivery Development Plan Document that appears to be causing the problem comes from the District Council. Firstly I am advised this is only a Consultation Document for public comment and I have already complained that it is not even in a form the public will best understand or access. I am hoping there will be a link added taking you to the Maps showing the GB5 proposals, and Botley is very near the end.

Also, to be clear, it is only the existing houses and gardens coming out of the Green Belt, leaving the fields and open areas behind the gardens still very much in it. The argument seems to be that the area under question is already developed and therefore inappropriate for Green Belt. I hope the plan from the document (shown below) gives a clearer picture of what is proposed.

The plus for some could be that existing owners will have more freedom if ever they want to extend.

I am told The Planning Inspector reviewing our Core Strategy, which is the overall Plan for the District, insisted that we review the Policies in the old plan GB4 Ribbon Developments in the Green Belt and GB 5 Residential Developments in Green Belt Settlement Areas whether we like it or not because they are inconsistent with the National Planning Policy Framework NPPF. He would not have accepted that they simply revert to GB without substantial evidence they are important to the open Green Belt, and there is little to none. Therefore he is suggesting that they come out of Green Belt, totally against our philosophy, but we desperately need to protect the open Green Belt by having a valid plan. This last bit I really do understand, as it will be so much harder to refuse any application if we don’t have one.

Having moved on a bit, It is beginning to make a bit more sense now that I understand National Policy is hardening the protection on Green Belt Policies that doesn’t allow the half way house we had in GB5 areas with some development allowed within the village envelope. The choices given by the Inspector reviewing our Core Strategy were limited, particularly as he stated that areas should fully represent Green Belt ( Be Green!) or be taken out. Being left in would leave very restrictive policies on any extensions or rebuilds or even infilling which would disadvantage existing owners, whilst leaving them out allows them to follow the new rules for development like the rest of us. He also indicated that if we did not review the GB4 and GB5 Policies, then our Planning Policy could well be unsound, which is where the other panic comes in about having no restrictions in place to stop some builders who want to build in the Green Belt because we are planning for so few houses in the Core Strategy.

That is roughly the choice you are being asked to comment on.

Having managed to extract the plan showing the effect of what is proposed (can be found on the village website at [url]http://leyhill.info/[/url]), you will find all the green fields still protected.

I would be interested to know hear from residents so I can gauge my own argument better. The DPPD document which can be found via the Councils Web Site (follow this link>>…), is to my mind unacceptably technical and aimed at Planners and professionals, but is only at the proposal stage for comment. However I can repeat that all the open fields around are retained and will have stronger protection.

I would very much welcome hearing from you with any queries or questions to get some idea of whether you would have difficulty supporting the idea and what might worry you.

Best wishes
Noel Brown
County and District Councillor

Botley - Whole village