By Alexander Robertson firstname.lastname@example.org
PROTECTED: Mole Valley’s green belt
Figures reveal the council’s development control committee has given the go-ahead to 135 applications to develop on land supposedly protected by the policy since the beginning of the financial year 2010/11.
The news comes after a poll commissioned by Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) found that nearly two-thirds of people nationally believe the green belt should not be built on.
Andy Smith, director of the Surrey branch of CPRE, warned that once countryside was used for development it was “lost forever”.
He said: “In Surrey we are fortunate to have such a large proportion of our countryside and open spaces within the metropolitan green belt. As much as 85 per cent of Surrey’s countryside is protected by green belt and in fact 73 per cent of the county’s total land area is within the green belt.
“This is a great thing for our county as it has provided protection for our green spaces for many years. But we are extremely vulnerable to development pressures at the present time.
“We should be ready to defend it from those who claim its time is past and that we must give it up for housing development.”
The poll, commissioned to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the green belt policy being adopted nationwide by the Government, showed 64 per cent of those polled said green-belt land should be left alone.
There were 21 applications to build on green-belt land permitted by Mole Valley District Council in 2010/11, compared to 28 in 2011/12.
In 2012/13, the planning committee approved 37 applications, while 24 were given the green light in 2013/14.
In the financial year 2014/15, 19 applications were given permission, while six have so far been awarded consent in 2015/16, as of July.
CPRE chief executive Shaun Spiers said: “We know the green belt is loved by the general public and supported by politicians of all parties.
“Yet despite this, it is under greater threat than it has been in its 60-year history. Of course the country needs more homes, but we can get them without trashing the green belt.”
Mole Valley District Council had not responded as the Advertiser went to press.
Editor’s Comment: Shortly after the General Election I interviewed Cllr Stephen Mansbridge the Conservation Leader at Guildford Borough Council. During this interview Cllr Mansbridge said that all borough councils approve applications to build on the Green Belt from time to time if such development is permitted under the Green Belt policies.