Why can’t I have more of a say on the future of my village?

by | 4 Jun 2019

When you live in a place, and can get out into it on foot especially, you can really get to know it and love it. If you’re lucky and there’s precious green space, you can even feel it doing you good.

So you’re bound to get defensive when it’s under attack. In recent months, my village’s green belt has been threatened by developers looking to squeeze in 350 houses. The system allows for objection, of course – but we’re told that more house must be built. The process somehow seems stacked against those already invested in the communities affected.

‘Nimby’, comes the cry and I can understand that point of view. But really, isn’t there a genuine case for listening to those who understand the effects of building those home would have on the community? And should the system not be weighed in residents’ favour, rather than here-today, gone-tomorrow builders. Why do people who don’t live in my village have more of a say about its future?

This photo was taken in Asher Lane, Ruddington, another arable field where homes are set to be built.

When another firm applied to add 174 further homes to Ruddington’s quota, I logged on to the council’s website to have my say. It’s not straightforward. There is a lot of ‘council speak’, and your grounds for legitimate complaint are kept narrow, referring as they do to housing needs, deliverability and national policy. Frustratingly, you simply can’t make local knowledge – you might call it common sense – part of the argument. You can’t just say, ‘This is green belt land and should stay green because that is a lot nicer than bricks, hard-standing and roads’.

Why does it have to be so difficult? Why not put the onus on the developers to explain their need to destroy? Ask them if they know that the field earmarked for homes is right by a well-established allotments site that’s a haven for wildlife. Sparrows chatter in the hedges and bees go wild for the nectar on the flowers, as they have for decades.

Ask them why they have to choose the field with the brook running through it, where grey herons hunt, or why a children’s play area is in danger of being sold off – space given to the village by a philanthropist in 1947 with a legal covenant (supposedly) protecting its use. Do they really have to scar the land where I once thrilled to see a barn owl swoop low over the A60 at dusk?

They need to look further afield than villages with narrow streets already clogged with cars, left by commuters who drive in from the south to park for free and get the bus into Nottingham to work.

Head just four miles north into Nottingham and there is brown field land to build on.

Let’s have more concern for our green zones. They enhance everyone’s health and wellbeing. Big cities are looking to incorporate more green spaces in between the concrete to benefit the people who live and work there. In our villages, green spaces are already there. Why not leave them that way?

  • First published in the Nottingham Post