The Chilterns Green Belt and its Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) remain under unprecedented threat from development despite assurances in the new Government White Paper on Housing, says the Chiltern Society.
The Society, with 7,000 members the leading conservation charity in the Chilterns, is examining the details of the White Paper and the likely consequences on the area and will give a considered response in the Government's public consultation.
However, Society trustee Paul Mason said the fundamental problems facing the area remain. “A tidal wave of tens of thousands of new houses are planned in Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Oxfordshire,” he said. “Some of these are on Green Belt and encroach the AONB.”
He added: “The Society is not opposed to the provision of new housing to meet local needs. But for everyone’s sake we must protect the special setting and heritage of the Chilterns. Protected countryside must remain protected.
"The White Paper declares the commitment of the Government to the continuing protection of the Green Belt but we believe the Government needs to re-examine the way it calculates housing need. The current method puts impossible pressures on councils in the Chilterns, forcing them to make short-sighted planning decisions which damage protected countryside and its setting.”
“We will be making this clear in our response to the White Paper.”
‘We share the concerns raised by the London Green Belt Council that measures for the protection of the Green Belt may not be robust enough. We also agree with the position expressed by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) that MPs and local authorities need to ensure that the commitment to the Green Belt outlined in the White Paper actually translates into achievable targets and appropriate well designed development.”
The Chiltern Society has an ongoing campaign to protect the Chilterns AONB and Green Belt against housing development.