Letter: Save our green belt

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The report by the South East regional planning panel, chaired by Professor Stephen Crow, proposing that 1,098,500 extra dwellings should be built in the South-east region by 2016 has rightly been heavily criticised ("South-east declares war against official plans for vast increase in house building", 18 November).

But one aspect has been overlooked. The report is a full-scale attack on green-belt policy. Professor Crow and his team make it clear that their housing target could not be achieved without intrusions into the green belts of London and other cities.

I am the district councillor for a ward which includes Boars Hill, protected by the firm enforcement of green belt legislation by my council. People come from far and wide to enjoy the magnificent view immortalised by the poet Matthew Arnold as the "dreaming spires" of Oxford. If Professor Crow has his way my council will no longer be able to enforce that policy. Our glorious view of Oxford could be obscured by the rooftops and television aerials of new housing developments.

Professor Crow and his colleagues clearly believe that economic factors should be paramount, and environmental factors are a nuisance.

But the Secretary of State for the Environment, John Prescott, is not expected to comment on the paper until January. Mr Prescott must make it clear to Professor Crow and his colleagues that green belt policy will be firmly defended against their assaults.


Boars Hill, Oxfordshire