LEAVE our greenbelt alone!
That is the message from the hundreds of campaigners who are expected to gather in Blacon this Saturday to protest against building on the city’s green belt.
Protesters, including those who heavily oppose plans for Chester’s first student village, fear Chester’s precious green belt will be lost unless drastic measures are taken.
Campaigners, among them Chester MP Stephen Mosley, will gather on land opposite Shelley Road, Blacon, from 10am on Saturday for the rally to raise awareness about the need to save the city’s green belt.
Protesters claim time is fast running out as developers press the council to release green belt land for large scale housing developments.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) are just weeks away from making a decision over controversial plans for a student village on green belt dividing Blacon and Mollington. Bell Developments are behind the proposed 2,300 student hub, including a full scale football pitch and other facilities.
Campaigners say plans for the village, which if approved could be housed alongside the proposed world class Redgrave Institute, which has been endorsed by Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave.
The fear is that the student village plan, and other proposed developments across Chester will set a precedent for future developments and residents will be left without precious green belt space.
Parkgate Road resident Andy Scargill, who is also a member of the Friends of the North Chester Greenbelt Group, said: “It seems that all sight of how valuable the green belt is has been lost. There is not a lot left and what we do have is valuable to us as residents. We, of course, support the principle of new housing, and affordable housing in particular but we believe that alternative brownfield sites can be utilised instead of sacrificing the greenbelt land.
“There is a real danger that if some green belt sites are released, this will set a precedent for other developments and the floodgates will open.”
'Local authorities are being rolled over by developers'
THE new leader of the Green Party has slammed the selling of greenbelt land in and around Chester for housing developments.
Speaking to the Leader, Natalie Bennett, expressed her anger at the decision by Cheshire West and Chester Council to target the city’s surrounding countryside for the development of about 9,500 homes, more than 5,000 of which would be built on greenbelt land.
Ms Bennett said: “We feel, along with the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England), that there are enough brownfield sites in and around Cheshire and the Wirral and we are committed to getting our message across to local authorities and the government that this needs to be addressed.
“Local authorities, such as Cheshire West and Chester, have rolled over to developers and pretty much asked the question, ‘which area of green belt would you like to build on?’, and that is just wrong.”
Ms Bennett also expressed her concern at the effect proposed building developments on areas, such as Clifton Drive in Chester, and the former Ridings Primary School in Saughall, would have for communities. Developments in areas such as these only serve to accelerate the disintegration of community in Britain,” said Ms Bennett, who replaced MP Caroline Lucas as leader of the Green Party in September.
“Building these housing developments on sites which can be used for the wider benefit of the community in which they are situated only serves to line the pockets of developers and chip away at the already limited amenities in our local communities.
“There is a failure to engage with the local public sufficiently on these issues.”