Local Group Name - Campaign to Protect Rural England

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CPRE president, Sir Andrew Motion, visits Avonside

Friday, 14 November 2014 14:53

CPRE’s Avonside branch was delighted to welcome our national president, Sir Andrew Motion, to discuss countryside issues and examine threats to landscape and the impact of housing and infrastructure projects.

In a whistle-stop tour of the region, taking in the West Country’s glorious landscapes, Sir Andrew met with branch representatives and other activists to discuss past and current concerns.

Arriving in Whitchurch, Avonside, Sir Andrew met with Jill Britten of Whitewood Farm, a farmer of organic beef in the Green Belt, and local campaigners. Jill has refused considerable offers from developers for her land, while the local CPRE branch has been continuing to campaign against development of the surrounding Green Belt.

On his visit to CPRE Avonside, Sir Andrew Motion said:

“It was a pleasure to meet members of CPRE Avonside and to discuss the importance of the Green Belt. Having been created with the assumption of permanence, the Green Belt is vital in preventing urban sprawl and preserving beautiful landscapes like that around Whitchurch.

“As with the case of Jill Britten of Whitewood Farm, it is absolutely wrong that farmers and people who own land should be pressured into considering offers for land supposedly protected against development. Both Green Belt and well-managed agricultural land is crucial to the balance and vitality of the countryside.”

Georgie Bigg, chair of CPRE Avonside, said:

“Our area has the unique benefit of two superb cities surrounded by Green Belt. They are set in glorious countryside and are enjoyed by both locals and visitors alike. Bath is a World Heritage Site and Bristol is European Green Capital for 2015. The absence of development on the edge of these cities, largely due to the presence of the Green Belt, keeps them contained. It allows the countryside to be in easy reach of residents for their leisure and enjoyment, but also available to produce wonderful local food.

“This resource is now under threat. Developers are targeting green fields around our cities and villages resulting in unnecessary urban sprawl. What is more, local people feel the planning system is letting them down. The Government promised a new focus on ‘Localism’ and more power for communities. The new National Planning Policy Framework suggested local people would have an influence on the future of their neighbourhoods. It is very clear, however, that the balance of power is still with the developers, communities are not being listened to, and the countryside around Bristol and Bath is under threat.”

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