The 5 purposes of the Green Belt and 3FM
Land can only be put into a Green Belt if it fulfills the purposes set out in government guidance.
The original government guidance was set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 2 (PPG2) as follows:
Purposes of including land in Green Belts
1.5 There are five purposes of including land in Green Belts:
– to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
– to prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;
– to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
– to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
– to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.
PPG2 has since been consolidated within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) issued by the Cameron Coalition government in 2012. The purposes set out in PPG2 remain the same and are summarised at para 80 of the NPPF.
WPI has commissioned Savilles to write a ‘Representation’ to GBC about 3FM.
On page 6 at para 1.6 Savilles make the astonishing statement that 3FM ‘is the only major strategic land promotion which does not contribute to any of the purposes of the Green Belt’.
“The evidence has been used to outline justification for the removal of Wisely Airfield from the Green Belt. In the broader sense, the site is located relatively far from the nearest settlements; it is not within an AONB, and is well screened in landscape terms. It is the only major strategic land promotion which does not contribute to any of the purposes of the Green Belt.”
You can access the Saville’s document at this link: http://wisleyairfield.com/
Savilles set out 4 of the 5 purposes of the Green Belt and claims that 3FM does not meet any of these purposes.
Facts v fiction
Purpose 1: to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
Savilles’s fiction: “The former airfield has no function in separating built up areas.”
Fact: 3FM forms part of the Metropolitan Green Belt of London. It is there to protect and to serve London. It intended to stop Greater London reaching Guildford – not to stop Cobham merging with Ripley. 3FM fulfills and serves this purpose of checking the unrestricted sprawl of Greater London. Several parts of Surrey have become part of Greater London. Designating this land as Green Belt prevents even more of Surrey becoming part of Greater London.
Purpose 2: to prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another
Savilles’s fiction: “The The former airfield forms no function in separating built up areas. The nearest settlement to the site is Ockham village 300m south.”
Fact: 3FM cannot merge with Ockham. It is already part of Ockham. It lies 100% within the Parish of Ockham – and has done so since Medieval times. The fact that the Settlement Hierarchy published by GBC misdescribes Ockham as a single settlement around the former Hautboy pub does not change the facts. The Parish of Ockham comprises a number of settlements spread over a wide area – including Church End, Bridge End, Elm Corner, Martyr’s Green and May’s Green.
The fact is that 3FM stands on a sandy plateau between the village of Ockham – based around Bridge End House and Ockham Common to the north.
The fact is that Ockham forms part of the land that separates Cobham from Ripley and Send. That Ockham is not the only and last remaining piece of land standing between two built up areas or between Greater London and Guildford does not mean that it does not serve this purpose.
Purpose 3: to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
Savilles’s fiction: “The airfield site is clear of development and.contributes little to restricting encroachment into the countryside (as development is already absent).”
Fact: The land is all agricultural. It is intensively farmed – according to WPI itself. It is open countryside. It has been farmed for many hundreds of years – perhaps for 1000 years.
Even Pegasus Consulting in its report on 3FM to GBC agreed that 3FM fulfilled this purpose of the Green Belt. It had to concede:
‘Due to there being a number of clusters of development within land parcel C18, it was recognised within Volume II that this area of land served this purpose of the Green Belt, with the designation restricting the ability of development to encroach from such clusters.
It takes an estate agent to call a brick latrine ‘stylish and generously proportioned’ and an estate agent to deny that this purpose of the Green Belt is not obviously fulfilled.
Purpose 4: to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
Savilles’s fiction: “The former airfield lies 300m north of the Ockham Conservation Area and does not provide setting to the existing boundaries or gateways to the village..”
Fact: The airfield lies entirely within the Parish of Ockham. It links the village to Ockham Common to the north. It is self evident that 3FM is part of the setting of Ockham. All of 3FM was proposed for designation as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest in the previous Local Plan. A substantial proportion of it was so designated. This countryside links the various settlements that have comprised Ockham for a thousand years.
Purpose 5: to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land
Savilles’s fiction: Savilles do not even mention this purpose. Perhaps they believe it does not exist.
Fact: This purpose certainly does exist and 3FM certainly fulfills it. But forming part of the Green Belt 3FM is protected from development. That protection forces developers to look first at re-developing brown field sites rather than using green field or virgin land. This manifestly fulfills the purpose for which the Green Belt was created.