RAID - Residents Against Inappropriate Developments
Main website: www.raid.org.uk
Say No to Dunton Garden Suburb
R.A.I.D (Residents Against Inappropriate Development, see our constitution) is a campaign started in response to the joint proposal by Basildon and Brentwood Councils to build 4000 to 6000 new homes on green belt land to the west side of Basildon. They have given the development the smooth name "Dunton Garden Suburb" claiming that it will be a pleasant new community to accommodate the growing population of local residents. In reality it would be a commuter dormitory for London's low paid workers who are being forced out of London by the removal of provision for the affordable homes in the capital that they need.
What is going on?
Local councils are setting inflated targets for numbers of new homes to be built in the next 15 years without taking into account the constraint to preserve green belt land that government policy sets out in the National Planning Policy Framework. They are seeking support from the public in a consultation so that they can remove hundreds of hectares of valuable countryside from their green belt map. Such alterations should only be made in exceptional circumstances which are not met by the plans. To get public support for this move they are using biased language to appeal to the NIMBY side of residents living away from the proposed area by telling them it will protect them from dense housing and traveller camps in their neighbourhood. They say that we must build on green belt land somewhere to fulfil conditions imposed by the government so residents just need to decide where it will happen. This is simply not true. We must tell them that they should not touch any green belt land or other green spaces that are an important to biodiversity.
If you have one of our posters please support us by displaying it in your window.
Dunton village has a character and history that goes back to at least the doomsday book. The surrounding countryside is a wildlife corridor carrying protected animals from its ancient woodlands and ponds along ditches and hedgerows to the nearby nature reserves of Langdon Hills Country Park. Parts of it have been designated as Local Wildlife Sites but the planners conveniently neglected to mention that in their habitat assessments. We must continue to protect it from the forces of urban sprawl for benefit of future generations, and we must remember that this is part of a bigger battle to save the green belt and protected countryside everywhere.
The local infrastructure of roads, rail, schools and hospitals are already used way beyond their intended capacity and in these times of austerity there is little prospect of the major improvements needed to cope with the ballooning urban areas. We face ever more congestion on the roads, oversubscribed schools and long waiting times at health centres.
The green belt is designated as a permanent resource in UK law and despite a population growing rapidly due to immigration there is no need to abandon its principles. Over the last five years the number of homes approved for building on the green belt has doubled to over 5000 a year. The proposal for Dunton Garden Suburb could top that figure in just one development and it promises to be the first of many as councils draw up new local plans around London and other large cities. This is not necessary. We can cope with the growing population by building more well managed high rise accommodation in cities where they are needed, but we must also seek to create more jobs away from London in the South West and North East where there is more space. The only force that is driving this threat to our countryside is the power of money behind big construction companies who can make huge profits. Agricultural land that is worth just thousands of pounds per hectare soars in value to as much as a million pounds per hectare as it becomes land for housing developments. We must let our councillors and MPs know that we are not fooled by the double talk from the town planners who are backed by these big corporations.
Where can we get more information?
The official information on Dunton Garden Suburb is available from the council website at http://www.basildon.gov.uk/dunton. In response to questions they also provided a DGS FAQ, but don't be misled by their positive spin. 1700 residents have joined the Dunton Garden Suburb facebook group to discuss the implications of the project and what to do about it. There is also a DGS blog posting information about the proposal and you can find good coverage of events in the local papers such as Brentwood Gazette, Basildon Recorder, Yellow Advertiser and the Echo. Finally there will be a big meeting with local politicians on 12th March at 7.30pm in the assembly hall of James Hornsby School. Everybody is welcome.
What else can we do?
The most important thing you can do is make an objection to the council by posting a comment to their consultation as outlined above. So far about 800 objections have been submitted and the more they get the better, but it is also the quality of comments that counts so if you can find out about the issues and make good points to the consultation please do. There is no limit to who can comment or even to the number of comments any individual can post, so you can submit a brief objection and then add longer comments later. Just remember that the deadline for public input is 16th March 2015 at 5pm. You can also sign our petition to stop the build which so far has over 1200 signatures. Please share that with your friends on social media to spread the word as quickly as possible. The impact of the development will affect infrastructure such as roads and hospitals used by people for miles around and the wider implications of building on green belt has a national impact.