Today I am discussing an issue that is threatening our local environment. I live in the town of Ringwood, just outside the New Forest National Park. The New Forest District Council are proposing a large development on currently open land in and around Ringwood. They want to build 1,280 homes, mostly on green belt land.
A quick Google gives you the following on green belt land:
The main purpose of the green belt policy is to protect the land around larger urban centres from urban sprawl, and maintain the designated area for forestry and agriculture as well as to provide habitat to wildlife.
The council has given a list of sites for proposed development. Frankly there are some environmental issues with all the Ringwood one’s. The map below shows the extent of land, much of it green belt, that the council is proposing is built on.
The dark green area is ‘Site P’. The council want to build 750 homes on this site. From an environmental point of view it’s a large site which will become largely useless to wildlife. It’s worth bearing in mind the proximity to’RI10′, the local fishing lake which is home to an ever increasing variety of wildlife and the purple lined area to the East which is the New Forest National Park. In fact many early proposals for the New Forest National Park had the border further West. Us residents have always felt the intention was to build on this land and keeping this area outside of the tougher national park restrictions means this is still possible.
Here are some photos I took of the proposed development sites over the Summer:
And here’s a better photo of Site P from Save Ringwood:
Surely it’s common sense that this is green belt land that really shouldn’t be built on?
Now you may be thinking that I’m taking a Not In My BackYard (NIMBY) approach to all this. But I’m really not. I feel that I would oppose this sort of proposal wherever it was. I do recognise the need for housing and although there are problems I think there are better sites in Ringwood than Site P. Building houses is inevitably going to have some sort of environmental effect but huge efforts should be made to limit these as much as possible.
There are practical issues beyond the environmental ones too. All the roads near Site P are either residential or little country lanes, hardly ideal for supporting all the extra traffic. Indeed, during the summer months the town of Ringwood is virtually at a standstill anyway- the roads can’t cope with the current volume of traffic, yet alone more. The area is also prone to flooding after heavy rain and building on this site is likely to increase that problem.
So what can we do about this? I fear very little. Throughout my lifetime there have been discussions about building on this site and there is a worrying feeling of inevitability about it. New Forest District Council want to build on it and the people who it will actually affect have little say.
The best thing to do is to make our voices heard. There is a campaign to do just that, Save Ringwood which I mentioned earlier. The website has further details on why we should object and the proposal itself. This link tells you how to object.
I am deeply concerned about the future of the town and the local environment and desperately hope we can prevent this irresponsible development.