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Greens launch petition against loss of Green Belt land

The South East Essex Green Party have today launched a petition to stop the destruction of 1460 acres (2.28 sq miles) of Green Belt land to the north of Bournes Green and North Shoebury.

Following recent reports of the scheme in the local media, widespread public concern has been raised about the proposed development which would see some of the last green belt lands in the borough concreted over.

An area of 5.9km2 has been touted as development potential for up to 7254 homes, creating a “new neighbourhood” between Sutton Road at its West and Star Lane at its East.

In further documents seen by the Green Party, the advisory document to the council on the area, reads: “Sector D has potential for strategic scale development” but that “this could not be achieved without significant investment in transport infrastructure”.

It is clear to us that this land is being teed up for vast swathes of new housing estates, and such a development would also likely be brought alongside the Rochford Outer Bypass which forms a core component of the Southend 2050 Vision.

Whilst the council has made it clear that this planning assessment is only provisional at this stage, we can’t help but agree with residents that it has made Southend Council’s future intentions for this area crystal clear.

The Green Party oppose this scheme, and have launched a campaign of residents against this destruction.

1. More sustainable housing options are available, but are not being sought.

Such a drastic loss of green belt land at a time of climate and ecological emergency is reckless, dangerous, and irresponsible. At a time of unprecedented destruction of our natural environment, we should be protecting and rewilding our green spaces, not building over them. Covering fields in concrete for the sake of growth is not progress.

Hundreds of hectares of previously agricultural and wildland, one of the few remaining havens for whole ecosystems of wildlife in our town, will be destroyed in the endless and mindless expansion ambitions of the town planners. This is simply not acceptable.

In further comments in the local media, the council reiterated that the need for such a development is bound by the national government’s blanket-approach housing targets and that the land would likely be sacrificed to meet the legislative requirements imposed on the council by the government, either by consent or by force.

What the council seems to be conveniently overlooking is that the town has plenty of room for development within the already-saturated confines of the borough. Far more sustainable opportunities for new housing exist on the 51 sites of brownfield land across the borough. Instead of earmarking these brownfield sites for new sustainable higher-density affordable housing, we instead have proposals for new car parks, new shopping centres, and white elephant vanity projects. This is not what our town needs.

For perspective, Southend is already 65% developed on; compared to Colchester (a City similar in size) is just 11% developed on. 

We can meet the growing need for increased housing supply in a genuinely affordable and sustainable manner, but yet again our climate-complacent councillors are looking to build on our green spaces for a quick fix.

2. You can’t sustainably build more homes without also creating new jobs, new services, and new amenities.

Such a ‘new neighbourhood’ would impose incredible additional strain on our local services, schools, and GPs if the new development is built without adequate amenities – as these new high-profit developments so often are. 

A significant majority of any new housing built on this site would also likely be high-profit, low quality, “luxury commuter homes” built for the benefit of property developers, not local residents. Just look at the Conservative-planned and Labour-backed Queensway scheme for a glimpse of what will happen here too.

No consultation has yet taken place as to how the new estate will impact the lives of those living in the areas adjacent, nor has any assessment been made about the effects of climate-change-related sea level rise on the area proposed. Such a scheme could result in unwanted mansions built on land soon to be underwater.

St Luke’s is an area already chronically poor of local jobs and services, and we fear that the thoughts of local residents won’t be taken into consideration in any proposals.

3. The construction of a Rochford Outer Bypass will result in huge parts of South East Essex becoming urban sprawl.

The previous Conservative administration at Southend Council put the construction of a Rochford Outer Bypass at the core of its Southend 2050 Vision, and the current Labour/Liberal/Independent administration doesn’t seem to have offered a different opinion either.

The proposed road, which would link the A130 by Battlesbridge, around Rochford, to conveniently the site of this new large estate would additionally green-light hundreds of hectares of green belt and agricultural land around Rochford, Ashingdon, and Hullbridge for new housing development.

The South East Essex Green Party has previously campaigned against this proposed bypass, and news of this new housing development reaffirms our concerns. It is our view that the construction of this new estate in North Shoebury would by necessity give planning consent to this destructive bypass, and will in effect be signing the forms that will wave goodbye to any remaining wild and agricultural land in South East Essex.

Alongside this mindless environmental vandalism would also come the problems of a significant increase in congestion, pollution, and a worsening of the town’s already illegally poor air quality. A new road would not alleviate any traffic congestion, but would through induced demand, actually increase the numbers of vehicles travelling to and from the town, worsening congestion and pollution in other areas.

Giving planning consent to this new development will likely result in the construction of the new bypass, and equally, giving consent to the bypass would result in hundreds of thousands of new buildings constructed on formerly green land.

The Green party oppose this scheme in the strongest possible terms, and we have launched a petition against it.

We call on every Southend Councillor to join our calls to block this scheme.
We will be publishing the names of those councillors who support and oppose this scheme.

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