October 17, 2008 6:00 PM

'Save the Countryside' has questioned the basis on which the calculations for extra housing in the South West and Cheltenham have been made and is joined by an increasing number of organizations and politicians in Gloucestershire opposing the Regional Spatial Strategy. Indeed there is now almost universal political opposition to it.

Secretary of the organization, Cllr. John Webster said 'The projections are based on growth rates that were fuelled by debt following financial de-regulation that will not be seen again. The growth that resulted from this was calculated to suck overseas labour into the UK which in turn would demand at least 3 million houses by 2026 - and this is simply not going to happen. There is no need for this amount of housing - and what is needed can be contained within existing urban settlements'.

In evidence submitted for consideration to amend the final draft of the RSS, the organization argues that what is proposed amounts to institutionalized urban sprawl into the green belt - thus destroying the character and environmental quality of the town that the green belt was created to protect.

Chair of 'Save the Countryside', Helen Wells, said: 'The secretary of state has deliberately removed the so-called 'sequential test', which maintained that urban brownland sites should be developed before 'greenbelt' sites. Even if she was right in her assumptions, this would be an unacceptable way to go about catering for them.

We have asked our MPs, Laurence Robertson and Martin Horwood, to do two things should this Labour Government be replaced in 2010. First, to look again at the population projections with a view to substantially reducing them by basing them on realistic and sustainable growth rates, and secondly by insisting that houses be built in urban areas first before building in the countryside, especially on green belt land. Both the MPs are in entire agreement with this'.

You can still make written representation on the Regional Spatgial Strategy in writing to The Regional Spatial Strategy Team, Govt. Office of the South West, 2 Rivergate; Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6EH

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